The Home Ministry in a letter to all chief secretaries and police heads told them to deport all foreign Jamaat followers who test negative for the deadly virus to their countries "by the first available flights".
The Centre has asked all states and union territories to immediately trace and quarantine the estimated 2,000 foreign Tabligh-e-Jamaat workers present in India, as a number of them tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a religious gathering in Delhi and six died in Telangana. The Home Ministry in a letter to all chief secretaries and police heads told them to deport all foreign Jamaat followers who test negative for the deadly virus to their countries “by the first available flights”.
The directive comes as many participants of a huge religious gathering organised by the Jamaat this month in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin West area complained that they have symptoms of COVID-19. At least 24 of them later tested positive in Delhi and another six died in Telangana due to the virus. Police and paramilitary personnel have locked down Nizamuddin West and residents were being tested and put into quarantine.
“Presently, it is estimated that about 2,000 foreigners, on tourist visa, from over 70 countries are spread all over the country for Tabligh work. Majority of these foreign nationals belong to Bangladesh (493), Indonesia (472), Malaysia (150) and Thailand (142) and their period of stay in the country is up to six months,” the Home Ministry said in the letter. Some Jamaat members in Erode district of Tamil Nadu and eight Indonesian nationals, part of a Jamaat team in Hyderabad in Telangana, tested positive for the virus recently.
“Possibility of some members of TJ staying at their headquarters at Banglewali Masjid in Delhi’s Nizamuddin carrying COVID-19 cannot be ruled out,” it said in the letter to states and UTs on March 28. It said the Jamaat teams visiting the hinterlands “appear to be potential carriers of COVID-19.”
The ministry said the Nizamuddin-based Tabligh headquarters is reportedly in the process of calling the foreign Tabligh teams from different parts of the country and sending them back to their countries. It advised the states and UTs to thoroughly screen every foreigner part of a Tabligh team for COVID-19 and, if required, quarantined or hospitalised. “If such foreigner is found to be free from COVID-19, then he should be immediately deported by the first available flights. Till that time, such a person must be confined and quarantined by his host organisation,” the ministry said.
The Home Ministry said the Bureau of Immigration had alerted all Foreigner Regional Registration Offices to compulsorily screen people arriving into the country. In this context, it is understood that such activists from India reportedly attended a religious congregation from Feb 27-Mar 1 in Kuala Lumpur. “Hence, thorough screenings of these (people) who arrived from Malaysia is urgently needed,” it said.