Dharavi emerges as Corona hotspot: Hiding Tablighis turn it into a nightmare for Maharashtra

    12-Apr-2020
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The Home Minister of Maharashtra had tweeted that about 50 to 60 Tablighis who had visited Markaz at Nizamuddin were still hiding in Mumbai. After this tweet, five Tablighis were apprehended from their hideouts and guess what? They were caught hiding in Dharavi itself!
 
Devidas Deshpande
 
In Maharashtra, 187 persons were confirmed as Corona positive on Saturday. This took the number of Corona cases in the state to 2096 – highest in the country and 1761 of them are active cases. The state also recorded 17 deaths which took the number of casualties to 127 – again highest in the country. Within the state, the number of confirmed Corona positive persons in Mumbai went up to 138 within 24 hours while the number of total patients has reached to 1146.
 
This effectively means that Mumbai holds 61 percent of the total Corona patients in Maharashtra. The adjoining areas of Mumbai, such as Thane, Palghar and Navi Mumbai have 10 percent patients while Pune has 20 percent patients. In other words, 91 percent of Covid-19 patients are from industrial belt of Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Palghar and Pune while remaining 9 percent are from other areas.
 
This poses a grave threat to the ongoing battle against deadly Covid-19 virus as the Chinese virus is spreading at a threatening speed in the Dadar and Dharavi area. Especially, Dharavi, the largest slum in the Asia, stands as a gigantic challenge to the well-being of the Maharashtra. The area recorded its fourth casualty on Saturday while four members of a single family were confirmed as Corona positive in Dadar. As of Sunday, April 12th, 15 new Corona virus positive cases have been reported in Dharavi taking the total to 43 cases and 4 deaths.
 
Ever since the Corona outbreak was reported in India, Dharavi has remained a cause of concern for the government, administration and the health experts. In fact, Rahul Shewale, the local MP from the ruling Shiv Sena, urged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on last Tuesday to completely lock down Dharavi so as to prevent it from emerging as a COVID-19 hotspot.
 
One has to understand why the authorities are worried about Dharavi. It is one of the most congested urban areas in the world consisting of a massive maze of shanty colonies, small scale units and squalor. "If the virus is not contained in Dharavi, then Mumbai will be in serious trouble. The spread of Corona virus can be very fast in Dharavi due to the congestion," the MP had said. The slum is spread on about 557 acres with about seven lakhs people residing in it. The area is so dense that anyone entering it without prior knowledge of its nature might fail to find its way whole day.
 
The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact a 35-year-old doctor having clinic on the main road in this area tested positive for Corona last week. Prior to that, on April 1, a 56-year-old garment shop owner living in a Slum Rehabilitation Authority building in Dharavi had become the first person from the area to test positive for Corona virus. He died on the same evening.
 
What gave more headache to the authorities is the fact that outbreak in Dharavi could be attributed to the mingling of Markaz participants in the area. In fact, the 56-year-old mentioned above had direct connection with them. According to the police, ten individuals who had participated in the Markaz event at Nizamuddin in Delhi stayed in Dharavi for six days before moving to Kerala. These persons stayed at four different places in Dharavi and they had meeting with the above victim, among others. Dr. Baliga Nagar, the area where the person in question lived, has proved to be most affected. The police had a tough time tracing the places that these Tablighis had visited.
 
After all the mess in the Nizamuddin Markaz came to fore, the Mumbai police had carried out investigations and shortlisted names of 150 individuals who were part of it. They had appealed to them to come forward themselves and get checked. However, many of them did not heed the warning and chose not to cooperate. Then, an offense of registered in the Azad Maidan police station against them, they were traced and many of them were quarantined. Still, many such participants are still at large.
 
Anil Deshmukh, the Home Minister of Maharashtra, had informed that about 50 to 60 Tablighis who had visited Markaz at Nizamuddin were still hiding in Mumbai and they had switched off their mobiles. After this tweet, five Tablighis were apprehended from their hideouts and guess what? They were caught hiding in Dharavi itself. The tests found 28 of the Tablighis returning from Nizamuddin Markaz to be Corona positive and of these, six are foreign nationals.
 
Within Dharavi, Dr. Baliga Nagar, Jasmin Mill Road, Dharavi Vaibhav Apartment, Dharavi Main Road, Shakti Chawl, Mukund Nagar, Dharavi Madina Nagar, Dharavi Janata Nagar, Dharavi Cross Road, Social Nagar, Muslim Nagar and Dhanwada Chawl have emerged as the hotspots for Corona and these names in themselves are enough to give an idea of its habitants.
 
So much so that Naseem Khan, the Congress leader from Mumbai, has affirmed that the Chinese virus spread in the slum because of Tablighis. Khan released a video featuring himself in which he made a statement to this effect and appealed people to take care. “The fight with Corona virus will be won by patience and perseverance, not by superstition,” he tweeted.
 
Within this perspective, it is hardly surprising if authorities are having nightmares in treating and defeating the virus. Dharavi and Tablighis have proved to be a Deadly combination in real sense.