After accelerating the spread of coronavirus in India and Malaysia, the Tableeghi Jamaat is under the spotlight in Pakistan for organising its annual mass assembly at Raiwind Markaz in March. The mass assembly was held despite strong opposition by the Punjab government.
According to an official report, approximately 70,000 to 80,000 members of the Jamaat had attended the religious congregation at the Raiwind Markaz on March 10.
However, Jamaat’s management, at that time, had claimed that the number of the participants was more than 250,000.
The Pakistani daily Dawn reported that, of the total participants, 3,000 had arrived from 40 countries, including the US, England and the Philippines, and were unable to return to their home countries since Pakistan had halted all international flights when Covid-19 pandemic situation worsened. They are among those local members of the community who are currently quarantined at the Raiwind Markaz where many preachers have tested positive for the virus.
“Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Zulfiqar Hameed held meetings with the top admin officials of the Jamaat to engage them when reports emerged that thousands of its members are attending annual event,” a police officer told the Dawn.
However, they ignored the instructions and decided to go ahead with the meeting. Meanwhile, the health authorities in Punjab have also declared that the coronavirus cases are rising in Punjab because of ‘carelessness’ of the Tableeghi Jamaat members who keep on meeting the pubic as a part of their preaching after their return to the areas they belonged to.
Talking to Dawn, a senior health official says the health authorities have repeatedly requested the Tableeghi Jamaat management to curb its activities and cooperate with them to stop the spread of the virus in Punjab.
About 10,263, who had attended the Tableeghi Jamaat event in March, have been quarantined in all 36 districts of Punjab.
The authorities are still searching for thousands of other participants who are absconding. The Pakistan health authority has declared them ‘a big potential source of spread of the virus if not traced and quarantined timely’.
According to the report in the Pakistan daily, out of the 10,263 members of the Tableeghi Jamaat, 539 have tested positive for the virus so far. Of them, the highest number of cases (404) is reported from Raiwind Markaz, followed by 31 in Hafizabad.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's novel coronavirus cases rose to 4,072 on Wednesday, killing 58 people in the country.