The Assam government will be filing cases against those residents who attended the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi, but still have not disclosed themselves, authorities said on Monday. The government will also soon implement a registration system for people who plan to enter the state after the country-wide lockdown is lifted.
Speaking at a press conference in Guwahati, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “As and when lockdown is withdrawn, we have to regulate the persons wanting to come in to Assam. For a temporary period we may need an ILP-like situation, even for permanent residents of Assam.”
The Inner Liner Permit, or ILP is a document based on a colonial-era law that regulates the entry and stay of outsiders in the Northeastern states of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and more recently, Manipur.
Sarma said that Assam is likely to begin the registration process in the next few days. He described it as an “entry permit” system and explained that if thousands of people land up all at once, then quarantining all of them might be potentially problematic. “Therefore we have to do a sequencing. First, we have to know how many want to come to Assam. Say 50,000 people want to come…we cannot let all 50,000 come in one go. We do not have that quarantine capacity,” Sarma said.
As of now, Assam has 26 positive COVID-10 patients — all but one are connected to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation held at Nizamuddin in Delhi last month.
The patient, a resident of an upmarket residential apartment in the heart of Guwahati, had come back to the city from Delhi on March 1. Sarma said that the exact source of infection is yet to be ascertained because he did not travel outside the state recently.
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A total of 112 people who had come in contact with the patient have been identified — 85 of them tested negative as of Monday afternoon. The results of 13 are awaited while the samples are yet to be collected of 14 more people, Sarma said.
Action against Tablighi attendees for failing to report
Sarma also said that over 800 people from Assam were identified to be present in or around the Nizamuddin event. Of that, after exclusions, samples had to be collected from a little over 600 persons — 491 samples have been collected so far.
As far as the 128 persons are concerned, Sarma and officials have already met the leaders of the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in Guwahati. They are expected to submit a list by Monday evening.
“It has been decided that under the Disaster Management Act, those who still do not come out they will be screened but government is going to register cases against them for wilful disobedience. Although we have been requesting again and again … there is provision in Disaster Management Act for such behaviour…But we are hopeful that this matter will be resolved by this evening,” Sarma said.
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