The administration of Jammu and Kashmir has said 20 villages have been isolated to prevent Covid-19 from spreading, especially after some people associated with Tablighi Jamaat told officials about their travel history.
Many of them had even participated in the religious congregations in Nizamuddin area of Delhi and Samba in J-K in the first two weeks of March.
Officials, privy to the details, said more than one dozen people affiliated with Tablighi Jamaat had visited Nizamuddin and also attended the religious congregation in different places in the state after reaching Kashmir.
At least 3200 people from across the country attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin, which has emerged to be the biggest Covid-19 hotspot in the country.
Hundreds of people have been put under quarantine and tested them for the dreaded infection by at least 11 state governments and Union territories.
Results were awaited in many states but officials confirmed that congregation members had tested positive in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu, and J-K.
Three villages in Hajin, one in Ganderbal, two in Shopian, seven in Pulwama, five in Srinagar and two in Budgam have been declared as ‘red zones’ and all those who have tested positive for coronavirus disease are connected with the Covid-19 patients belonging to Tablighi Jamaat.
Many members of the Jamaat had voluntarily approached officials after they heard about the death of the 65-year-old religious preacher in Srinagar, whose was the first Covid-19 related death in J-K.
The preacher had attended the gathering in Delhi on March 8 and 9 and left for Deoband in Uttar Pradesh on March 10. From there, he went to Samba district in Jammu on March 12, where people from different parts of the state had also participated.
On March 16, he flew down to Srinagar and developed mild symptoms. Before he tested positive he had met dozens of people in the Valley and also attended a gathering in Sopore and Baramulla. The locality in Srinagar where the preacher lived was also sealed.
Officials said that more than 100 people who had any sort of contact with the preacher are currently under the hospital quarantine and couple of them have already tested positive.
Many family members and Jamaat members who had met the religious preacher in Delhi and Samba were tested and many turned to be negative, which has given a slight glimmer of hope to officials.
In Hajin, eight people affiliated with Tablighi Jamaat have tested positive and four villages—Batagund, SK Bala, Chandeergeer and Parray mollah of Hajin township—have been declared as red zone and the areas completely sealed as the police are keeping a close eye on the situation.
Among these eight positive cases, two had come into contact with the religious preacher who died, while others have been travelling to different states across the country.
However, officials say that they could have attended the religious gathering at Nizamuddin and other places and contracted the virus during travel or some other places.
“They all positive patients had a travel history as they belong to Tablighi Jamaat. Around 200 people are under administrative quarantine and more than 600 in home quarantine,’’ said a senior officer in Bandipore district.
Among these eight positive patients, two had visited neighbouring Ganderbal district and stayed at a mosque. Now, a big village which also houses a big mosque and Darul-a-uloom have been declared a red zone.
“Nobody is allowed in or outside the village and names of all the persons who had met the positive patients have been contacted,’’ said another senior officer in Ganderbal district.
In south Kashmir, three members of the Tablighi Jamaat had tested positive and all of them had travelled outside the state in the first week of March and two had even attended several religious congregations.
Around six villages in Pulwama and two in Shopian have been isolated. One of the Covid-19 patients, who is also the member of Tablighi Jamaat from Pulwama, had met around 100 people in four different villages in Pulwama and all are being now under quarantine, most of them under home quarantine.