On April 27, National Herald had published a report titled ‘Muslims with no link to Tablighi Jamaat detained by Delhi Police, sent to quarantine’.
The Delhi Police has issued a rebuttal, which states that ‘the allegations published in the newspaper are false and hence denied’. However, the National Herald correspondent Ashlin Mathew stands by the story and raises some points and asks some questions for Delhi Police to answer. The questions follow the Delhi Police’s rebuttal which is produced verbatim here.
Read the Delhi Police’s rebuttal:
This refers to the above captioned news article appeared in your esteemed newspaper (–link ), the allegations published in the newspaper are false and hence denied. It is stated that there were 33 foreigners along with two Indian translators of Tablighi Jamaat who had come from Markaz, Nizamuddin in the area of PS Shastri Park. They had stayed in Mosques and in some private houses in Shastri park Area. There were 12 local people who were in close contact with these 35 Tablighi people. When persons having links with Tablighi Jamaat, Markaz, Nizamuddin were traced in order to check outbreak of COVID-19, the above 12 persons came to notice. They were sent for medical examination and after the medical examination on the advice of doctors they all were quarantined. The above action was taken because there was a possibility that some persons, who were in contact with these Tablighi Jamaat people, may also be infected with the Corona virus even though they had not visited the Markaz Nizamuddin themselves. Therefore, a contact tracing was carried out. These are those people who were quarantined in order to contain spread of the disease. It also came out that 5 out of 12 of them turned out to be Covid+ve during testing at a later stage. Therefore, they are being quarantined in order to save the lives of these people irrespective of their faith or religion and also to secure the lives of their near and dear ones in whose contact they could have come, if left to roam about just like that.
Besides, there was information received in PS Khajuri Khas on 31.3.2020 that some persons who have visited Markaz Nizamuddin are residing in the area. Immediately, an enquiry was conducted. During enquiry, it was revealed that there were about 6 persons who had visited Markaz Nizamuddin and then gone to Maharashtra in Jamaat and then had returned. These people were taken for medical examination where on the advice of the doctor, they were quarantined. Another information was received on April 1, 2020 that some more Jamaati people have come from Bulandshahar. It came out that there were 11 such persons. They were also taken for medical examination and doctor had quarantined them. The information was duly passed on to the civil administration for necessary action.
Since Covid+ve is a pandemic disease and have the potential to spread to others. Therefore, contact tracing of known or suspected Covid+ve cases were carried out immediately and probable contact persons were got medically examined and quarantined as per the advice of the Doctor. For instance, if 5 local people in Shastri Park as explained above who turned out to be Covid+ve, if had not been quarantined, might have spread the disease to umpteen numbers of people.
The issues related to facilities at quarantine centre may be got clarified from Civil Administration.
In view of the above-stated facts, it is requested that this rebuttal may be published with the same prominence, so as to put the facts in proper perspective before your esteemed readers.
(MANDEEP SINGH RANDHAWA) IPS
PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
National Herald correspondent Ashlin Mathew responds:
In our article, we had mentioned that the Delhi Police randomly picked up more than 20 Muslim men from north-east Delhi (Shastri Park and Khajuri Khas) on April 1 allegedly for being associated with the Tablighi Jamaat conference. None of them had gone for it and most of them tested negative for COVID-19. The readers, we believe, need no reminder that north-east Delhi saw the worst riots in a few decades as recently as March 2020. Currently, Delhi Police have been arresting Muslim men and women for reportedly instigating the riots.
The reporter had called Delhi Police PRO, MS Randhawa, who said that all questions regarding those who have been quarantined must be put to the Delhi government. The reporter then spoke to the SDM of the area, who has been quoted in the article.
However, in the rebuttal sent to NH, the police have stated that the men were picked up after a contact-tracing activity. Some of them were picked up as they had gone for religious activities (Jamaat) in Maharashtra and Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, the police said. According to the police, others from Shastri Park had come in contact with Tabligh Jamaat attendees.
In the article, NH has published a document prepared by the authorities at Wazirabad quarantine centre where it has been clearly mentioned that none of them have any links to Tablighi Jamaat. Moreover, it has been 28 days since they were picked up, well over the prescribed quarantine period of 14 days.
According to the rebuttal by the Delhi Police, all of them were picked up after a contact tracing activity and not randomly. This points towards the contact-tracing activity. In most cases, the respective government prepares a map showcasing where the COVID-19 spreader had travelled to in order to alert all those in the area to come forward for testing. A contact tracing map has the route travelled by a patient along with the time they appeared at a particular place. No such map was made available or released. Civic authorities engage in contact tracing and not police officials in most other states.
Here, National Herald would like to note that several Muslims engage in religious activities in the months preceding Ramzan and being a part of such groups does not mean they are carriers of the virus. All of the quarantined people National Herald spoke to insisted that they had not come in contact with any of the Tabligh Jamaat attendees. Neither had their families as National Herald had spoken to a few of them too.
As reported in the article, several of them were picked up from their homes or while they were on their way to home or the market. Logically, contact tracing would mean that even those who interacted with these men should be tested for COVID-19? But, they haven’t been as many of their wives and children are at home and no tests have been conducted on them. None of the shopkeepers and hawkers that these quarantined people met have been traced either. So, the question remains that if this was a contact-tracing activity, why were only Muslims traced? Did they not meet anyone from any other religion and did these people meet only men and no women or children?
We also realise that due to this activity, a few people who would not have realised that they have COVID-19 have been identified. This ensured that they got the required hospitalisation and treatment.
Another question National Herald has is why the mobile phones, of those who were picked up, were confiscated and returned only late on Friday, April 24, which was when reports about the incident started to trickle out. Contact tracing surely doesn’t mean phones have to be kept aside.
We, at National Herald, look forward to hearing from the police on these points and we stand by our story.