Kanpur/Guwahati: As coronavirus cases in the country spike, authorities have warned of invoking attempt to murder charge and the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against those participants of the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi who fail to report for screening test.
According to the latest updates from the Union Health Ministry on Monday, at least 1,445 of the total 4,067 COVID-19 positive cases are related to last month’s Tablighi congregation in west Nizamuddin which has emerged as the epicentre of the virus outbreak.
More than 25,500 Tablighi members and their contacts have been quarantined in the country till now after the Centre and the state governments conducted a “mega operation” to identify them, Punya Salila Srivastava, a senior Union Home Ministry official, told reporters in Delhi.
At least 9,000 people including nearly 1,000 foreigners participated in the religious congregation after which many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country.
According to reports from the states, several congregation participants are yet to show up before authorities.
The Kanpur administration gave a “last chance” to those who attended the Tablighi event or who came in contact with them to report to authorities, warning the National Security Act (NSA) would be invoked against them if they failed to do so.
“Those who have come in contact with any Jamaat member or were at the religious congregation in Delhi markaz have been given a last chance to come forward and present themselves before the district authorities for COVID-19 test, otherwise be ready to face the National Security Act,” said District Magistrate Brahmadeo Ram Tiwari.
Under the NSA, a person can be detained for up to 12 months without a charge. A person can be also held for 10 days without being told about the charges against them.
The magistrate said the decision was taken as three fresh COVID-19 cases were reported in Kanpur city in less than 20 hours and is aimed at making people take the pandemic seriously.
“We are trying hard to identify and treating people contracted with COVID-19. Police have made announcements in red-zones through public address systems, urging people to report themselves before Tuesday noon for the sake of their own life,” Tiwari said.
Uttarakhand DGP Anil Kumar Raturi appealed to Tablighi members who have returned to the state to report to the administration latest by Monday or face stern action.
“If it is discovered after April 6 that you deliberately hid yourself and passed on the infection to others, you will be booked under the Disaster Management Act and under sections of the IPC, including attempt to murder and murder in case of a death caused by the contagion,” the DGP said in a video message.
Uttarakhand has seen a sudden rise in coronavirus positive cases of late with 19 people testing positive in four days.
“You will be tested if necessary and treated so that you and those around you are safe but if you deliberately hide yourself and risk your life as well as that of others around you, you will be booked,” DGP Raturi said.
Heeding warnings of strict action, a total of 12 Tablighi event participants and their 52 primary contacts reported to the Himachal Pradesh police for testing.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and state DGP said Sita Ram Mardi had asked Jamaat members to come forward for testing by 5 pm on Monday, else they would be booked for attempt to murder.
The DGP said 12 Jamaat members and their 52 primary contacts have reported to the police following which they were put under home quarantine.
Seventeen FIRs have already been registered against 85 Jamaat members for deliberately hiding the information and violating curfew in the last five days, the DGP said.
Besides, 277 people who returned to the state after attending the Jamaat have been identified and quarantined in various districts, he added.
The Assam government also warned of strict action against the attendees who fail to report for testing for COVID-19 by the end of the day.
“The government will register a case of wilful negligence against them if they do not report by today. There is a provision for that under the Disaster Management Act,” Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters in Guwahati.
Sarma said the Health Department estimates that 617 people from the state attended the event, of whom samples of 128 are yet to be taken.
The Mumbai police also made a fresh appeal to the congregation participants to approach the nearest police station or call on BMC helpline number 1916 as part of the efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The police, in a tweet, said. “We request all attendees of Tablighi Markaz at Nizamuddin, New Delhi to report their travel details on @mybmc helpline 1916 and help us in our fight against this pandemic.”
“Those failing to cooperate will face strict action under Indian Penal Code (IPC), Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Act. It is our request and your responsibility to report your travel details,” it added.
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