Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, on Tuesday, alleged that some members of Islamic sect, Tablighi Jamaat, have played a major role in spreading COVID-19 in the state and the country by “not cooperating with the authorities” and “hiding their travel history” to Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi in March.
In an interview to a radio station, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani also said a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases in Gujarat was because of “mistakes” committed by Tablighi Jamaat members who attended a gathering in Delhi last month.
Speaking with media persons here, Patel, who also holds the health portfolio, said that most of the NRI travellers who arrived in Gujarat airports following the COVID-19 pandemic were Hindu and almost all of them followed the government guidelines on check-ups and quarantine.
“Indians started coming from abroad — from China, England, America, Europe, Spain, Italy. They are all Indians, they are our citizens… Some were there for business, some for trade, some for study and some were there on tour. So when all landed at airports…, all were checked on instructions from the Indian government… if symptoms like fever were observed, they were not allowed to go home and were directly quarantined,” said the Deputy CM.
He added, “So, 95% of them were Hindus. 95% of them were Gujaratis. And even from Gujarat those who came from abroad were educated and well-off section. They did not insist (against the procedure) and followed government’s instructions by going to the quarantine centre they were assigned. If they were asked to remain in home quarantine for 14 days, they strictly followed the rules…, around 98% people followed it. Because of this, we could save Gujarat from those who came from abroad, who could have infected others.”
“Muslim countries are also among coronavirus-affected countries… Iran is a big example. Including Pakistan, where crores of Muslims live, nowhere have we seen people disregarding government instructions,” Patel said.
“But (in India), some extremists and religious fanatics started spreading canards that ‘all this is not proper in our religion’. That it will cause damage and we do not require any treatment or any (medical) test. Some people got deceived by such canards. And Tablighi Jamaat played a major role in this,” Patel said.
“After leaving Delhi, they should have informed the state’s health or police authorities concerned that they have come from Delhi (Jamaat)… we could have quarantined them, checked them medically. We could have prevented the current spread of the (viral) infection,” Patel said.
He added, “And I must say that this has caused maximum damage to minority areas. Currently in Gujarat, Muslim community has a big share in the list of corona positive patients… these people came, did not inform and the virus spread more.”
Of the 127 persons from Gujarat, who attended the event in Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi last month, 12 from Ahmedabad have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.
On speculation of the lockdown getting extended, Rupani said it was tough to say anything at this juncture, adding it was the Centre that would decide on this after seeking opinion from all states. He said there was confusion among the masses on this topic, and claimed one of options being discussed by the people was to lift the lockdown in a phased manner so as to control the rush of crowds.He said impact of lockdown on the economy should not be taken into consideration when people’s lives are at stake.
(With PTI inputs)
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