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COVID-19: The Tablighi Jamaat and the Rohingya Connection

  • Team PresentMirror | Updated: April 18, 2020, 6:32 p.m.

The Tablighi Jamaat connection with COVID-19 is not stopping itself from being in limelight as it has taken a new turn. The Ministry of Home affairs has asked all the states and union territories to screen Rohingya Muslims and their contacts as many of them have attended the Ijtema at Nizamuddin in the Capital.


The Ministry of Home Affairs (Internal Security Division) in a letter to all chief secretaries, advisors, DGPs (all States and UTs) and commissioner of Police, Delhi has said that, “Several Rohingya Muslims have attended ‘Ijtemas’ (Religious congregations) and there is a high possibility of them to be acting as sources of infection of COVID-19 since they were in contact with jamaat members”.

The letter also said that, “ Rohingyas residing in camps in Telangana (Hyderabad) had attended Tablighi Jamaat Ijtema at Mewat in Haryana and also in Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi”.

There are also reports from Derabassi (Punjab) and Jammu about the presence of Rohingya Muslims, after the meet at Tablighi Jamaat. The Rohingyas residing in ShramVihar and ShaheenBagh in Delhi have not returned to their camps after the meet.

“Therefore, Rohingya Muslims and people who have come in contact with them may need to be traced and screened for COVID-19 at the earliest possible. Accordingly, necessary measures may be needed to be taken in this regard”, the letter mentioned. The Government has also reiterated that COVID-19 patients should not be identified by their religion and cautioned against any religious polarization.

At least 9,000 people from 41 countries took part despite the ban in congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz last month after which many travelled to various parts of the country for missionary works. Delhi Police has booked an FIR on preacher Maluana Saad and others. Maulana Saad, who has been absconding since then, has asked for the FIR copy via a letter and said that he will be co-operating in investigation.

Rohingyas are ethnic minorities from Rakhine province in Myanmar and more than a million have taken refuge in Bangladesh and some in India following an ethnic violence against them. According to the home ministry, there are around 40,000 Rohingya refugees living in different parts of the country, including in Delhi, Jammu and Hyderabad.

Since these people possibly contracting COVID-19 have not returned to their camps, it is important to trace them and screen them and their contacts in order to stop another boom in the rise of COVID-19 cases. If that happens, it will be a major setback and extra burden for India in combating the deadly pandemic with its limited resources.

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