3 Assam Villages Sealed Over Covid-19 Fears as Nearly 10,000 People Attend Preacher's Funeral

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Fearing spread of the novel coronavirus, authorities in Assam locked down three villages on Saturday after thousands of people in Nagaon district attended the funeral of a well-known preacher.

The funeral gathering was of 87-year-old Khairul Islam- a vice-president of the All India Jamiat Ulema and “Aamir-e-Shariat” for the Northeast. The gathering was held at his native place in Nagaon on the afternoon of July 2.

As per a report by Indian Express (IE), the family members wanted the funeral procession to be held on July 3, but later they decided to go ahead with it by July 2. The incident came to light after Islam’s son, Aminul Islam, an MLA of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) from Nagaon’s Dhing constituency uploaded pictures of the gathering on a social media platform.

Taking cognizance of the event, district administration officials estimated that at least 10,000 people attended the event. Two police cases have been filed, one suo motu by the police and another by a magistrate present at the spot, said Nagaon Deputy Commissioner Jadav Saikia. A lockdown has also been imposed on three villages surrounding the field in an attempt to contain any spread of the deadly virus.

“There were no law and order issues in the gathering. But the gatherers violated the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic laws regarding the gathering, social distancing, wearing masks, etc. The cases are not against any individual but against violators. We will investigate the case and proceed as per law,” Saikia told IE.

Commenting on the unprecedented gathering amid pandemic, MLA Islam told IE that his father was a very renowned figure and had a very large following. Following the protocol, the family had informed the administration about the death and the funeral and accordingly, to limit the number of participants.

Earlier in April, Aminul Islam was arrested and booked under sedition for allegedly making communal statements and sharing it on social media.

Assam’s total tally of positive coronavirus cases crossed the 11,000-mark on Saturday with the detection of 1,202 new cases, the single biggest spike in a day. The figure jumped from 9,777 cases to 11,001.