Is a prolonged quarantine just an excuse to keep Tablighi attendees locked up?

Why are Tablighi Jamaat members who tested negative for Covid19 still under quarantine in Delhi? It has been over a month, and the Delhi government now wants MHA to take a decision.


Member of Parliament, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader and Asaduddin Owaisi, may be the only senior politician who has personally written to the Union Government to seek answers on why members of the Tablighi Jamaat are still being confined in Delhi’s quarantine centres even though they have tested negative for Cronavirus.

Owaisi, has written to seek the return of 38 TJ members who hail from Telangana and are now stuck in Delhi, it also brings into focus the way Delhi administration, and even the Union government has all but forgotten that the quarantine period has passed. Most of them have been in quarantine since March 31, it is now May 6. They have spent more than twice the time needed in isolation. Even those who have tested negative are still in confinement. It is not yet known if those who had recovered from Covid-19, and even donated plasma to help others heal, have been sent back to the quarantine facility again.

The TJ members, including women members have been sending messages highlighting the appalling conditions they are being kept under at the quarantine centres. They have complained about the lack of hygiene, privacy as well as inadequate and ill-timed food. Most of them are fasting for the month of Ramzaan and need nourishment and ablution facilities on time. 

Asaduddin Owaisi has also asked: “Why’re people from Markaz not being discharged despite all negative tests & them completing over TWICE the required quarantine period? Why’s Delhi govt not permitting their discharge? They’ve been there since 31 March, they should be discharged immediately.”

Over 3000 people, who had attended the Jamaat’s annual meeting at the Markaz at Nizamuddin had been moved to different quarantine centres at Narela, Bakkarwala, Mandoli, Sultanpuri, Dwarka and Badarpur. According to a news report in the Hindustan Times, the Delhi government has to wait for instructions from the Union ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) before they take a decision on the release of the Jamaat members. 

It is important to note that the quarantine facilities are run by Delhi Government, who can probably take the decision to discharge those who have tested negative, and completed the required quarantine time. It is not known if the Delhi government has been seeking permission from MHA for discharging each person who tests negative, or is it only in the case of members of the Tablighi Jamaat that they are being extra cautious.

The HT quotes senior Delhi government officials who admitted that while all the TJ members tested negative and have completed at least 28 days in quarantine, it is the lack of “clear guidelines from the Centre have delayed their release.” This includes  2,446 people from all across India, including 191 from Delhi. According to the newsport, the Delhi government’s health department requested the MHA on May 3 to “issue directions/protocol immediately for the release of these people.” 

“We have informed the MHA that it is becoming difficult to explain the reasons for their extended stay to these people, especially during Ramzan,” the news report quotes a senior Delhi government official, who requested anonymity. The city has reported over 5100 Covid-19 cases till now. 

The Delhi government was the first to give separate statistics for the Covid-19 cases reported amongst the Jamaat members. This had led to mass targetting and vilification of the entire Muslim community in the city and across India. They soon stopped that and started listing cases connected to the Markaz as those under “special operations”. 

According to the new report a doctor has confirmed that: “All the patients who were brought to the hospital from the Nizamuddin markaz have already been discharged after they tested negative twice consecutively. They have been sent to government facilities for a 14-day quarantine, which people who have recovered usually undergo at their homes. Many of them have also agreed to become plasma donors.” 

The plasma donation had created a wave of positivity, and had helped stop the abuse thrown at the TJ members for a few days. But that was short lived and the social boycott of Muslims, especially those from the economically weaker sections resumed in the city and elsewhere.

The conditions at the camps were reported to be so bad that two diabetic inmates died in April. Mohamed Mustafa (60) died on April 22 while Haji Rizwan, died about ten days earlier. Both of them had come from Tamil Nadu and died due to “denial of diabetic medicines and erratic food supply.” Taking note of this, Delhi Minorities Commission Chairman Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan and Member Kartar Singh Kochharhad had written  to Lt. Governor Delhi  Anil Baijal, and Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, and apprised them of the appalling conditions prevailing in the  Covid19 quarantine camps in Delhi. These conditions and the “callous and uncooperative nature of officers and doctors manning and supervising these camps and erratic supply of food at these facilities” are to be blamed for the  deaths of two inmates, stated the DMC letter.

As for holding the organisers of the Markaz event responsible, it has been reported that Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad’s son has been questioned by Delhi Police’s Crime Branch recently. According to a Hindustan report he was questioned about the whereabouts of 20 employees of the Markaz who are said to be missing. The report added that Saad’s son was also told to get his father tested again for coronavirus. Saad himself had sent messages a while ago that he had undergone the 14-day quarantine and was disease free. It is not known if Saad, or his son, have appealed to the government to allow their members who have tested negative for Coronavirus to go home, so they spend a peaceful Ramzaan with their families.


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