When Mohammad Ali (63) walked out of the Sultanpuri centre on Sunday, he had been in quarantine for 40 days. Among those picked up from the Nizamuddin Markaz in March, the Tablighi Jamaat member was let go on Sunday, a day after directions to release them were passed by the Delhi government.
Ali, a former Delhi Police assistant sub-inspector, who was last posted at Hauz Khas police station, returned to his house in Bhajanpura, just like 14 others did to their homes across the city after spending more time in quarantine than the protocol suggests.
“I was picked up from Nizamuddin and sent to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital on March 30. On April 18, I was brought to the Sultanpuri quarantine centre… I have spent 40 days away from my family till now… Today, they said my quarantine period is over… What will you say to this?” he said.
He said he is not sure if he ever tested positive for the disease: “I was never shown my reports. I don’t think I tested positive.”
Mohammad Riazuddin, aged around 60, has been the centre for around 20 days after being transferred from a centre in Wazirpur. He said there was shortage of food and medicines initially but after those living in the centre started coordinating, and with help from NGOs, things improved.
“People from the Jamaat took things in their own hands and started distributing food to everyone,” he claimed.
On Saturday, the Delhi government passed orders allowing 2,446 Indians who were placed in quarantine centres and have tested negative to return to their homes. The 567 foreign nationals will be placed in the custody of Delhi Police, the order said.
Tablighi Jamaat members had been put in quarantine after its headquarters in Southeast Delhi, where a gathering was held in end March, was vacated. Eventually, the gathering had emerged as a coronavirus cluster, with cases across the country traced to it. Over 1,000 members tested positive in Delhi.
The Delhi government had written to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on April 17 and May 3 seeking “directions and protocols” on the release of Tablighi members, saying they “have not only tested negative but also completed more than 28 days of stay in hospitals/quarantine facilities”.
Around 700 people, mostly those who attended the Nizamuddin event, are kept at the Sultanpuri centre, despite testing negative for Covid-19 and completing the mandatory quarantine period. The administration released 15 people from the centre on Sunday. SDM (Rohini) Nagendra Shekhar Pati Tripathi, meanwhile, said all government guidelines were followed from day 1 at the centre: “We have released 15 people on Sunday and three a day before for whom vehicles were arranged. For the remaining people, vehicles are yet to be arranged.”
Those from other states — most of the Tabhighi Jamaat members are not from Delhi — will be let go once their home states make arrangements for them to return.
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