The health of 46 Muslim preachers is being monitored by the Goa Directorate of Health Services after they were identified as members of Tablighi Jamaat, who reached Goa from different states, including Delhi.
Of the 46, nine had been to the Banglewali mosque in Dehi’s Nizamuddin area, among the coronavirus hotspots in the country, between March 8 and March 10, in different shifts, before reaching Goa on March 11, according to the probe till date.
Of the 46 now under quarantine in Goa, 37 had no travel history to New Delhi and had been moving between different states, teaching students of the faith. They entered Goa on different dates, but none after March 15, according to the travel documents shared with the authorities.
The Goa Police is probing if any of the 37 made contact or have epidemiological linkage with any member who attended the Markaz from other states.
While the Directorate of Health Service has appealed to people to report if any of the Tablighi members are in Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant came down heavily on the members, calling them “responsible for turning Goa into an unsafe zone once again”. The Chief Minister now has ordered a probe to find out “why they came to Goa,” since “none of them are from the state”.
Sawant, who had been leading Zilla Parishad election campaigns till March 18, and attended religious meets in Goa, including the much-crowded Shantadurga Ballikarin, on March 14 — repeated that “people should know because of whom we are now in danger. I was saying till yesterday that we are in the safe zone. But now we have those 46 who have come in touch with the people in Nizamuddin, so we are back in danger a little bit. If we go back to the unsafe zone, it will be because of these 46 people.”
Sawant, who holds the Home portfolio, added he had given the police permission to “search everywhere”.
Saying that the men were rounded up and sent to isolation for public health since no one informed the government, he added, “Police Inspectors are checking all mosques. If there are others in masjids, they too should… our Muslim brothers should cooperate because this is a matter of the country, of the state and not of any caste or religion. If there are such people who have come here and are staying in the masjids, they should come forward on their own, because at the end, it will cause trouble to our families and the state.”
He further added, “I have told them to search everywhere. No need for search warrant. Even if they are at some home, authorities should enter their homes and search. Wherever they are, they will be picked up. It’s the question of the state.”
Sawant later appealed, “It is important that all religious leaders, be it Christians, Muslims and Hindus, through video-conference educate people on coronavirus. They must tell worshippers no to come together,not to pray together because in some cases some (people do not listen to the government). Only the religious leader can tell them,” he said, adding, “If one starts the message, one can reach everybody. The coronavirus does not differentiate between caste and religion. Some people are spreading the wrong message so it is important to remain alert. It will help us a lot.”
The CM also briefed the media on the interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It has not yet been decided if the lockdown will extend beyond April 14. He (PM Modi) has asked for suggestions from each state. Our suggestion is to continue sealing the borders for a longer duration.”
He further added that Goa might even lock down a village if cluster spread is found there. “If we find between 8 and 10 cases, we will lock down that village, restricting any movement, to and from. Cluster containment is crucial,” he said.
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