Tablighi Jamaat congregation was attended by thousands of followers in March  |  Photo Credit: IANS
New Delhi: The Tablighi jamaat Markaz in Nizamuddin has undoubtedly emerged as one of the most critical hotspots of coronavirus in the country so far. And if the police went door to door searching for those who attended the mammoth religious congregation in Delhi in March, there was a lesser-known army of Intelligence Bureau (IB) sleuths who tracked the individuals name-by-name on the basis of their mobile numbers.
According to news agency IANS, the IB started working on tracing the ‘human traffic’ on the basis of massive mobile data that was dumped at various mobile towers around Nizamuddin area, which witnessed a mammoth gathering of over 7000 Jamaatis.
“The initial tip-off came when trains originating from Nizamuddin station reached Hyderabad, in the second week of March. The local administration discovered that these trains were carrying passengers (mostly Jamaatis) and several amongst them tested positive for COVID-19. The IG, Intelligence Bureau, Vijayawada, communicated these scary developments to the higher-ups,” a source was quoted as saying by news agency IANS.
According to the agency report, the intelligence agency prepared a district-wise list of people who were spotted around Nizamuddin area during the religious gathering. While close to 1500 people had left the Markaz on March 23, over 1000 of them continued to stay near the Markaz on March 24, when the lockdown was announced.
“It was a mammoth surveillance exercise, literally unheard in the department. However, the IB officials with the help of cellular operators launched the operation. In a very short time the sleuths had to collate and analyse the huge data and further disseminate it for the end-users, across the country,” a DG level official told the agency.
How the police acted on the data
By March 30, lists containing thousands of names and their mobile phones were sent to police department officials of various districts across the country. The police subsequently traced the people who had attended the Markaz and put them through medical tests.
“The exercise has in fact helped the country to efficiently tackle the menace of this virus which could have otherwise caused a devastating effect,” Rajesh Kumar Pandey, DIG, Bareilly Range said.