Delhi police on Tuesday booked the cleric who led a huge religious gathering in Nizamuddin West earlier this month for violating government orders on not organising public gatherings and maintaining social distance to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, an official said.
The case will be investigated by the crime branch, said the police PRO Mandeep Singh Randhawa.
The markaz (centre) in the south Delhi neighbourhood organised a Tabligh-e-Jamaat from March 1-15 and at least 2,000 people, including foreigners and Indians from across the country, attended it. On Sunday night, many residents of the centre started showing symptoms for coronavirus infection and police and paramilitary officials locked down the area but authorities fear a spread of the virus.
The police have been using drones to patrol the area to check any violations.
The Telangana government said Monday six people who attended the congregation died due to the virus. On Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said 24 Jamaat participants have tested positive and more than 440 residing at the markaz have been hospitalised after they showed symptoms for the disease.
Delhi police officials said they registered a case against Maulana Saad of the Nizamuddin markaz under sections of the Epidemic Disease Act and the Indian Penal Code for violating government orders on management of the centre in relation to social, political or religious gathering.
Markaz Nizamuddin, the international headquarters of the Jamaat for nearly 100 years, has said after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the "Janta Curfew" on March 22, the centre discontinued ongoing programmes but a large number of people were stuck because of the closure of transport services.
Authorities have launched a nationwide search to trace the people who attended the gathering in Nizamuddin West, which has become the new epicentre of the virus.
The health ministry, however, said it was not the time to find faults but to take action.
"With respect to the Nizamuddin area, we all need to understand and appreciate that this is not the time to do fault-finding. What is important for us is to take action as per our containment process in whatever areas we find a case," Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said at a press briefing.
Delhi has reported 97 coronavirus cases and and two deaths, according to government data.