Nizamuddin Markaz attendees had entered Ahmednagar district and some of them had tested positive for Covid-19 but they had kept the information a secret and did not disclose it even after government appealed them to do so. - Devidas Deshpande
Even as the Maharashtra government is trying to suppress the number of Corona infected individuals and cause behin them, the information is trickling out in one way or another. Like many other states in the country, the spread of Corona in the state is attributed to the 'single source' event. Adding the seriousness to the cause is the nefarious designs of concerned persons behind hiding this truth.
The district court of Ahmednagar on Saturday sent 29 persons, 26 of whom are foreign nationals, to custody. Ahmednagar police had arrested these persons in the last week of March for hiding crucial information related to their foreign origins. Offences have been registered against these foreigners at police stations in Nevase, Bhingar Camp and Jamkhed.
According to the prosecution, these foreigners had participated in the Nizamuddin Markaz at Delhi and had entered the Ahmednagar district after it. Some of them have been tested positive for Covid-19. However, they had kept the information of their being in Ahmednagar district a secret and did not disclose it even after governments, both at centre and state, appealed them to do so. The police told the court that they wanted to investigate their motive behind this secrecy. While the court accorded judicial custody to the foreign nationals, three Indian nationals were sent to police custody.
The arrest of these foreigners attracted wide publicity and was dubbed as the Markaz-2. All 29 of them were put in quarantine for last few days. The police arrested them formally on Friday evening after as all of them were proved to be Corona negative. They belonged to places like Djibouti, Benin, Dekota, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonessia and Brunei.
It is noted here that all these are missionaries (Tablighis) and had come on tourist visa in India. As such, they are not supposed to carry out any religious activity and yet, they violated this prohibition and freely roamed all around Ahmednagar to propagate fundamentalist Islamic faith.
Coincidentally, the state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was in Ahmednagar city on the same day when these Tablighis were given custody. He informed the mediapersons that the state government had taken action against 156 persons all over the state who had violated their visa norms and indulged in missionary activities. Deshmukh also said that 1400 Tablighis who had participated in the Nizamuddin Markaz had entered Maharashtra and all of them were found out (This claim stands questioned because it is said that at least 60 Tablighis who returned from Delhi have not been traced yet).
The numbers in Ahmednagar and Maharashtra assume importance because the district is centrally located in the state. It has a sizable number of Muslims and Muslims religious preachers go out from here in large number. Actually, the Tablighis had originally planned this event in Vasai, near Mumbai, but the local administration denied them permission due to the Chinese virus outbreak. Then the venue shifted to Delhi.
The first Covid-19 infected patient in Ahmednagar district was found on March 12. Thereafter, the district administration swung into action and all those with foreign travel history were traced. During this investigation, it was found that 46 individuals from Ahmednagar district had participated in Markaz and 29 of them returned to city. Other 17 were staying at different placed in the district. The investigation and patrolling led to the expose of these foreigners hidden in various mosques at different places. And it was clear that they accted as 'spreaders' because three locals were found to be infected by Covid-19 because of the Tablighis from France and Ivory Coast. Similarly, 14 Tablighis from Nepal were found to be hidden in a mosque at Sangamner when the Covid-19 was spreading its wing. The police registered offence against five locals in this regard.
The development assume importance in view of the increasing Corona cases in Maharashtra. The Tablighi connection is evident everywhere be it Dharavi or Ahmednagar. This proves to be a fire-test for Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his government. However, looking at their grappling with the situation, the days ahead look worrisome if not dreadful.