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65, including Tablighi members, untraceable in J&K (IANS Exclusive)

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By NS Desk 11-Apr-2020

<br>A country-wide hunt was launched in March soon after it emerged that the Tablighi Jamaat gathering at Nizamuddin West of New Delhi had become the largest viral vector of the Covid-19 in India. Though many have been traced, several remain missing, according to sources.

Top official sources said the police had been given a list of 2,054 after a tower analysis of the 1,501 participants from J&K and the people they got in touch with. "We have traced all except 65," a senior official said.

On March 21, after the first case of an infected Tablighi Jamaat member surfaced in Telangana, the Union Home Ministry shared details of participants of the Delhi congregation with all the states.

The police of each state since then, have been trying to trace the potential coronavirus carriers and the people who may have come in touch with them physically.

In Kashmir, Ashraf Anim, 65-year-old Tablighi Jamaat chief of the Sopore region, became the first person from the congregation to die of Covid-19. As many as 41 Tablighi Jamaat members from J&K have tested positive.

Over 8,000 Tablighi Jamaat members, with over a 1,000 foreign nationals, attended the congregation by second week of March. Thousands of them were travelling in the country when the government announced the lockdown on March 24.

Over 7,600 have tested Covid-19 positive in India so far. Of this, one third are related to the Tablighi congregation.

Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Muhammad Saad Kandhlawi not only refused to abide by the restrictions imposed in view of the pandemic, he asked, as seen in a viral audio clip, his followers to run to mosques.

He called the deadly virus infection 'God's punishment' and dismissed social distancing as a preventive measure. Saad, on the run, was traced by the Delhi Police a few days.

--IANS<br>aat/pcj

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