COVID-19: Amid the growing number of Tablighi Jamaat returnees turning positive for coronavirus, the governments of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh urged that no communal colour be given to the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus in India: Tamil Nadu on Saturday reported two coronavirus deaths, both with a Tablighi Jamaat connection, as southern states continued to witness spurt in COVID-19 cases who had attended the Delhi event last month. A 51-year-old man from Villupuram in Tamil Nadu who had attended the congregation in Delhi and the wife of another positive case from Theni who participated in that meet were the two fatalities, even as the state saw another significant addition to its existing number of the virus affected persons.
Amid the growing number of Tablighi Jamaat returnees turning positive for coronavirus, the governments of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh urged that no communal colour be given to the spread of the virus. Among the fresh cases of coronavirus reported from Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh were returnees of the religious congregation.
On Saturday, Tamil Nadu reported an additional 74 cases of coronavirus, with as many as 73 of them having been to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin West in March. While the state’s total positive cases as on Saturday stood at 485, as many as 437 of them had attended the religious meet, according to government data. Andhra Pradesh reported 26 fresh cases of coronavirus, all the new patients being those that had been to the Tablighi Jamaat event.
There are at least seven women among the Jamaat patients in different districts. Kerala, which has been witnessing a steady rise in the number of patients for the past many days, saw 11 new positive cases on Saturday. Three of them are Tablighi Jamaat participants The state has so far reported 306 positive cases.
Among the 16 newly infected in Karnataka on Saturday, two had attended the congregation from March 13 to 18 in the national capital. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy described the Tablighi Jamaat congregation as a “spiritual event” and appealed to people not to give it a religious colour.
In a recorded video message, the chief minister remarked that such things could have happened even in other religious events. “It is unfortunate that the disease has spread from the congregation in which several spiritual delegates from some foreign countries too participated. Some of those foreigners had coronavirus and it got transmitted to our people,” he said. “But we should not attribute it (the disease spread) to any religion or caste and treat those people as deliberate wrongdoers. Nobody should see them as if they committed a crime,” he added.
Spiritual leaders like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (The Art of Living), Jaggi Vasudev (Isha Foundation), Mata Amritanandamayi, Paul Dinakaran or John Wesley command “thousands and lakhs of followers in India and abroad,” he said. “..and they could participate in their events. Such things could have happened in such gatherings as well,” Reddy said about the spread of the contagion. Such incidents should only be seen as “unfortunate” and not “deliberate” and attribute it to a religion. He further said victims of the infection should be shown compassion and not distanced. The virus had no religion nor medicine and did not differentiate between the rich and poor, besides countries. “In this battle, our enemy is the invisible virus called corona,” Reddy noted.
Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami also appealed against giving communal colour to the spread of the contagion. “People should avoid giving communal colour to this (virus) and should not show hatred to those affected by it,” he said. Palaniswami’s appeal came at a time when Nizamuddin West in Delhi has emerged as an epicentre for the spread of coronavirus in different parts of the country after thousands of people took part in an Islamic congregation organised by the Tablighi Jamaat from March 1-15 and returned to their states. The virus-affected persons should be shown love and compassion, the chief minister added.