The Delhi Police’s chargesheet filed against the Tablighi Jamaat mentions that the Malaysian and Indonesian nationals who attended the gathering were carriers of the deadly virus and that led initial wave of coronavirus in India. The charge sheet talks about similar gatherings in Malaysia which ended up being a super-spreader event. It also talks about a canceled event in Indonesia where Covid-19 cases were reported before the outbreak in Delhi. Markaz Nizamuddin became the Covid hotspot and allegedly played a vital role in spreading it across the country.
The chargesheet says, “It is needless to point out that some of these foreigners have acted as carriers of the highly infectious coronavirus and had thus brought over the infection from their respective countries to India.” In the chargesheet, police mentioned that six people who attended Markaz died in Delhi and Haryana and one of them was a foreigner.
Chronology of events as per the charge sheet
Police mentioned in the chargesheet that the gathering in Malaysia between 27th and 1st March resulted in 500 Covid-19 cases in that country. An event scheduled for 18th March in Indonesia was canceled because of the authorities’ concerns. By that time, 25 people were already dead, and 309 were infected in that country. The chargesheet said that people from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other countries came to India to participate in the Markaz gathering in Nizamuddin. As per the police, they acted as carriers of the virus.
In the chargesheet, it was said that the CDMO/Southeast district contacted Markaz authorities on 19th March and asked to maintain social distancing and ensure home quarantine after an Indonesian man was tested positive in Telangana. He had a history of traveling to Delhi for Markaz gathering. Delhi Police contacted a Markaz official named Haji Yunus and asked him that there should not be more than 20 jamaaties in Nizamuddin at any given time.
On 21st March, Delhi Police called Mufti Shahzad and asked him to immediately ensure foreign nationals leave for their respective states or countries. When the lockdown was announced on 24th March, Delhi Police issued prohibitory orders, but no official from Benglewali Masjid Markaz took any precautionary steps. On 25th March, a medical team was sent for the first time as there were reports no one was following social distancing orders and one jamaati from Bangladesh started to show symptoms for Covid-19. On inspection, the police found that there were 526 foreign nationals and 1,183 Indians at the Markaz.
On 28th March, SHO of Hazrat Nizamuddin sent a written complaint to DCP Crime Branch and informed them about the alleged violation by the head of Markaz Maulana Saad and management. Lawyer for Tabhligi Jamaat, advocate Mujeed Rehman said, What good is an advisory by the administration at that time, asking to ensure social distancing? Tablighi members were self-isolated in Nizamuddin. Authorities should have shut down airports, screened passengers, and undertaken contact tracing.”
Once police started to track jamaatis across countries, they found clusters of Covid positive cases across the country who came in contact with these Markaz members. The information provided by Markaz was incomplete or unverified in many cases and it became hard for the administration to track jamaatis on time. They even tried to project that it is a conspiracy of the Indian government to defame jamaatis. The center has told the Supreme Court in a recent statement that Markaz management deliberately disregarded police instructions to send back its members.