Tablighi Jamaat: HC asks Centre, Delhi govt to respond to foreigners’ plea on alternate accommodation

New Delhi, Jun 29 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Monday asked the Centre, Delhi government and police to reply to a plea by several foreign nationals connected to Tablighi Jamaat, who participated in the religious congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz event during the COVID-19 lockdown, seeking permission to add three more places of alternate accommodation for them.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar issued notices to the Centre and Delhi government and Delhi Police and asked them to take instructions on the matter.

The court, which conducted the hearing through video conferencing, listed the matter for further hearing on Tuesday.

The application sought modification in the court’s May 28 order by seeking to include three more places of alternate accommodation for the foreign nationals connected to Tablighi Jamaat in light of ongoing criminal proceedings.

On May 28, the high court had directed that 955 foreign nationals, who had participated in the Markaz, be shifted from institutional quarantine centres, where they were kept since March 30 despite testing negative for COVID-19, to nine alternate accommodations.

The plea, filed through advocates Mandakini Singh and Ashima Mandla, said that during the course of the month, 65 foreign nationals housed at Meeraj International School have faced discomfort with regard to the arrangements there.

It said the community is praying for permission to immediately shift these 65 foreign nationals from Meeraj International School to Texan Public School in Moujpur here, a new accommodation suggested by them.

“Apart from the Texan Public School, the community has now identified an additional 2 alternate places of accommodation, which may be used in the future, if need be, to house any of the 955 foreign nationals in question. The community once again undertakes to bear all costs for shifting accommodation and further duly notify the Respondent No.4 (Delhi Police) of the whereabouts of the foreign nationals,” it said.

The high court had on May 28 disposed of two petitions filed by various foreign nationals seeking to be shifted to alternate accommodation and stating that the financial burden will be borne by the community, Tablighi Jamaat.

The high court had warned that they should not shift to any other location without the permission of Delhi Police.

The high court had allowed the shifting of the foreign nationals to the eight facilities -- Jamiat Ulema Hind, Haj House, Zayed College, HR School, two MS Creative Schools, Meeraj International School (Couples) and Axle School -- and to Hotel Smart Plaza at Mahipalpur here in respect of the Malaysian Nationals.

Delhi Police had told the high court that 47 charge sheets have been filed in respect of 910 foreign nationals belonging to 35 countries.

After being exposed to a large gathering in March amid the COVID-19 or coronavirus lockdown many members of Tablighi Jamaat from Markaz Hazrat Nizamuddin were taken out by the authorities and lodged in different quarantine centres in Delhi. Some of them were sent to the centres a few days later after being detained from various mosques.

In April, COVID-19 cases in Delhi spiked after hundreds of many Tablighi Jamaat members, who had attended a large congregation in Nizamuddin, tested positive.

The other members were directly taken to quarantine centres to contain the spread of COVID-19. PTI SKV HMP SA