New Delhi: The Delhi Minorities Commission has raised the issue of the death of two men at a COVID-19 quarantine centre in Sultanpuri in North West Delhi. The panel has alleged that they both died as they were diabetic and were not provided food, medicines and necessary treatment on time. The panel has urged Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to probe the incident.
In a joint letter to Baijal and Kejriwal, Commission chairman Zafarul-Islam Khan and member Kartar Singh Kochhar wrote that improper conditions at the quarantine centres were responsible for the death of the two men. They said it was “due to the callous and uncooperative nature of officers and doctors manning and supervising these camps and erratic supply of food at these facilities” that the two diabetic patients died.
Both deceased hailed from Tamil Nadu
The panel said while Haji Rizwan died around 10 days ago, 60-year-old Mohamed Mustafa died recently on April 22. It said they both hailed from Tamil Nadu. Both of them are learnt to be from the group that attended the Markaz in Nizamuddin that was organised by the Tablighi Jamaat.
The Commission said members of the Tablighi Jamaat and others who are suspected to have come in close contact with COVID-19 patients have been are kept at quarantine centres in Sultanpuri, Narela and Dwarka. It said, “Tablighi Jamaat inmates include Indians from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, U.P. and Rajasthan while there are also foreign nationals from Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan. They include elderly people with health issues who require special care and medical attention.”
Stating that many of these people have completed 25 days in quarantine, which was much more than the required 14 days, the Commission said a vast majority of them had also tested negative. But, it charged that these people have been kept in these centres with “some of those who tested positive”.
Out of 21 positive cases of Jamaat members at Sultanpuri camp, only around 4-5 were reportedly taken to hospitals, the Commission said in its letter.
`Inhuman’ treatment at quarantine centres
The panel said it has received complaints of inhuman treatment from those quarantines at these centres. “Breakfast is served at 11 a.m. and dinner at 10-11 pm. The food is hardly edible. As a result people are having stomach problems and some are vomiting. Medical facilities and medicines are not provided while some of the inmates are diabetic and heart patients. Doctors rarely visit the patients.”
The Commission also wrote that “inmates are not given necessary and life-saving medicines – as a result of which two diabetic patients have already died in the quarantine camp at Sultanpuri.”
It added, “it is very unfortunate that this was allowed to happen due to the carelessness of the medical and administrative staff while these persons were in government care and therefore government was responsible for their safekeeping and welfare during their detention.”
`Tabligh Jamaat members have completed 25 days at centre, much more than mandated 14’
The Commission further said in its letter that as on April 23, Tabligh Jamaat members have completed 25 days under quarantine which was much more than the mandated 14-day period. It therefore demanded that “those who have tested negative must be allowed to move out of these camps which in effect are jails. Those who are able to go out of Delhi or stay elsewhere in the city must be facilitated to do so including stay in apartments or hotels at their own expenses until the end of the lockdown period.”
The Commission demanded that medical care, medicines and timely supply of food must be ensured in all these camps and a senior officer, like the area Sub Divisional Magistrate, should be made personally accountable for any lapse. Further, in view of fasting by Muslims during Ramzan, it said, “the timing of supply of food to them must also change and meticulously followed to suit fasting timing.”