US, French, Italians among 1,300 Tablighi foreign members identified in India

NEW DELHI: Over 1,300 foreign Tablighi Jamaat activists, including those from the US, France and Italy, who took part at a congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin, have been identified in different parts of the country and most of them have been put in quarantine, officials said on Thursday. The Tablighi Jamaat’s Markaz in Nizamuddin West has emerged as a hotspot of coronavirus, following which a major area has been sealed and an FIR lodged against its cleric for violating government orders.

Different government agencies have also found around 9,000 Indian Tablighi Jamaat members and their contacts, spread over in about 20 states and Union Territories, and all of them are in the process of being put in quarantine centres.

According to an official estimate, 250 foreign Tablighi Jamaat activists were identified in Delhi, the highest among all states and Union Territories, an officer said.

While a majority of these foreigners were found at the Nizamuddin Markaz, some of them were also living in a few mosques in the national capital.

The foreigners, who were found in Delhi include two American nationals, one each from France, Belgium, Italy and Tunisia, 172 Indonesians, 36 Kyrgyzstan nationals, 21 Bangladeshis, 12 Malaysians, seven Algerians, and two from Afghanistan.

A total of 247 foreigners, who attended the Markaz, were identified in Uttar Pradesh, followed by 154 in Maharashtra and 133 in Tamil Nadu. As many as 96 foreigners were identified in Telangana, 86 in Haryana, 70 in West Bengal, 59 in Madhya Pradesh, 38 in Jharkhand, 24 in Andhra Pradesh, 12 in Uttrakhand, seven in Odisha and five in Rajasthan.

The agencies have also found that 24 foreign Tablighi Jamaat activists were living in Karnataka and three others in Punjab, but all of these 27 foreigners left India before the lockdown came into force, the official said.

So far, a total of 245 COVID-19 cases and about 12 deaths in the country were found to have links with the Nizamuddin Markaz.

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba has already told states and Union Territories to take action against foreigners, who have participated in the missionary activities of the Tablighi Jamaat, for violation of visa conditions.

Most of these foreigners came to India on tourist visa, which prohibits their involvement in any religious activities.

The government has also decided not to issue tourist visa to any foreigner who wishes to visit India and take part in Tablighi activities, the official said.

The Home Ministry on Tuesday said about 2,100 foreigners have come to India since January 1 and indulged in Tablighi activities in different parts of the country.

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