Punjab: After a huge spike in Coronavirus cases in different parts of the country due to the congregation held by Tablighi Jamaat at Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi, a similar case surfaced from Hazur Sahib Gurudwara in Maharashtra.

Out of  total 542 Covid-19 cases reported in Punjab, 173 are Sikh pilgrims, who returned from Nanded, Maharashtra.

According to the reports, around 3,700 Sikh pilgrims were stranded in Hazur Sahib Gurudwara in Nanded. The state government had sent 80 buses while the gurdwara board also organised around 150 buses to bring them back to Punjab.

A total 3,500 pilgrims have  reached Punjab from Nanded during the past three days and have been kept in quarantine at different locations.

However, more than hundreds of pilgrims returned to Punjab before 26th April in their private vehicles and were neither stopped at the checkpoints nor were screened. They are also possible suspects.

The Punjab Government has ordered the health department officials to actively trace them and put them under home quarantine. Balbir Singh Sidhu, the State Health minister blamed the Maharashtra government for ‘not screening them properly’.

However, Ravinder Singh Bumgai, Secretary, Sikh Gurdwara Takht Sachkhand, found it unfortunate that the holy place was being linked to a large number of Covid-19 cases. 

He defended the Gurudwara saying, “Over 4,000 of these pilgrims were in AC rooms here, two in a room, and screened by Nagarpalika officials every week. They were in Nanded for 35 days and the district remained in the green zone. They were infected during their journey through five states for 36 hours and halts every six hours. Given the negative publicity, we feel the ones left here should not probably leave now.”

Meanwhile, two of the 18 pilgrims who reached Haryana on Friday tested positive. The surge in cases due to the Sikh pilgrims has raised concern in Haryana, UP & Delhi as well and the state governments are planning to make provisions to deal with it.  Delhi health officials said “quarantine facilities similar to those for students from Kota are being made for the Sikh pilgrims too.” 

The shrine, located on the banks of the Godavari in Marathwada, is considered the place Guru Gobind Singh visited last and attracts thousands of pilgrims every week. Until trains stopped running in the last week of March, pilgrims from Punjab and neighbouring states continued to visit the place.