Three people were detained for allegedly threatening a nurse to not use a particular road in a locality in Aurangabad city in Maharashtra as she was working in a Covid-19 facility

(Only for representational purpose)

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The Bihar government has urged the Centre to extend the nationwide lockdown till the end of this month besides keeping air and rail traffic, other than Shramik Special trains, suspended during the period, sources said on Friday.

The suggestions were made in response to the Centre inviting feedbacks from the states for framing guidelines for the fourth phase of the lockdown which shall come into force from May 18, they said.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hinted that the lockdown which is to end on May 17, would be extended but with revised guidelines to enable resumption of economic activities for which his government has announced Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package.

“The state governments communication is broadly on the lines of the views expressed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the video conference meeting with the prime minister a day prior to the nationwide address,” a source said.

They said the state government has sought extension of lockdown and suspension of movement of trains other than the Shramik Specials and general passenger flights in view of the situation that has emerged following the return of migrants to Bihar from across the country on a large scale.

“The state government said it has been scrupulously adhering to the lockdown guidelines and, as stated by the chief minister, will continue to do so. Nonetheless, the aforementioned restrictions ought to remain in place till the end of this month by when the dust is expected to settle on the (migrant) influx,” a source said.

Bihar is making efforts to ensure that the process of return of migrants is over within a week and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has requested the Centre to run additional train rakes to Bihar for the purpose, besides directing officials to coordinate with other states to make arrangements for those who wish to come back by road.

Kumar has also sought more testing kits from the Centre so that the number of samples tested per day on an average could be significantly increased from 1,800 to 10,000.

There has been a spurt in Covid-19 cases in Bihar since the beginning of this month when the return of migrants gained momentum with the plying of Shramik Special trains.

About 2.5 lakh people have returned by train since May 4 and the number of migrants who have tested positive since then stands at 358, the state health department said.

Bihar has reported 1,012 coronavirus cases so far, of whom seven have died.

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Migrants photographed near Gazipur in Delhi on May 11

Migrants photographed near Gazipur in Delhi on May 11 (Photo Credits: PTI)

Taking note of the plight of migrant workers, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday wrote a letter to states and union territories asking them to ensure that labourers on foot use the facilities arranged by the centre such as buses or trains. Written by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, the letter also makes mention of the situation of migrant workers walking on the roads and railway tracks.

“States must ensure that there is no movement of migrant workers walking on roads and railway tracks and the same is facilitated through special buses or Shramik Special trains,” the Home Secretary wrote in his order.

Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla further advised the states that migrant workers found in such conditions should be appropriately counselled, taken to nearby shelters and provided with food, water and other essentials. “States should then help them to board the Shramik Special trains or buses to their places,” the letter says.

While maintaining its official position, the Centre through Bhalla stated that it has taken note of migrant workers choosing to walk on roads and railway tracks in various parts of the country. The Home Secretary wrote, “Centre has allotted buses and Shramik Special trains to enable migrants to travel to their native places. It is now the responsibility of all States and Union Territories to ensure that movement of stranded migrant workers who are willing to go to their home states is facilitated.”

“More than 100 Shramik Special trains are being operated each day by the Ministry of Railways and additional trains can also be arranged as per their requirement,” Ajay Bhalla wrote.

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As many as 1,640 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members from 47 countries were in India at the time of Nizamuddin Markaz gathering, of whom only 64 tested positive for Covid-19 and two more died of the virus, prominent Muslim organisation Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind said on Friday.

Jamiat president Maulana Arshad Madani said the “highlighting” of Tablighi Jamaat cases while talking about the total number of cases in the country had allegedly created an atmosphere of hatred against Muslims.

Maulana Madani said that now when there are more than 78,000 cases of coronavirus, the Tablighi Jamaat figures are not being highlighted.

Citing data compiled by his organisation through various embassies and the Nizamuddin Markaz, Madani said there were 1,640 members of foreign Tablighi Jamaat from 47 countries in India at the time of the Markaz incident.

Of them, 64 tested positive for the virus and two died due to it.

All 64 people have now recovered.

The foreign Tablighi Jamaat members included those from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Sudan, Singapore, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, US, Syria, Belgium, Brazil, Australia, and Afghanistan.

Out of the total foreign Tablighi Jamaat members, 739 are in Delhi and the rest are in other states, the Jamiat said.

Maulana Madani said coronavirus spread has nothing to do with the Tablighi Jamaat but it was portrayed by vested interests to be the case to create ill-will against Muslims at large.

Hundreds of Indians and foreigners attended a Tablighi Jamaat congregation in the Nizamuddin area of Delhi in March, flouting guidelines the government against large gatherings in the wake of coronavirus .

A number of people who attended the event were later found to be suffering from Covid-19.

Earlier, government sources said foreign nationals, who attended the congregation will face punitive action if they are found to have participated in the gathering, violating visa rules.

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ALSO WATCH: Coronavirus cases in India cross 80,000

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