Over the last two days, the Tamil Nadu government has begun to term Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases traced to the Tablighi Jamaat Aalami Markaz Nizamuddin (Banglewali Masjid) congregations held last month in March as ‘single source’ of infection.
When a reporter asked Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Beela Rajesh on the number of those whose samples had tested positive for the pandemic virus from the Nizamuddin congregation, she said: “Don’t term it that way. It is the single source.”
On Tuesday (7 April), Rajesh said 69 new Coronavirus cases had been reported in Tamil Nadu, taking the total number of those affected to 690.
With 63 of the 69 being traced to “same source” Nizamuddin congregations, the total number of those who have tested positive after attending the Tablighi Jamaat congregations is 637 (92.3 per cent).
Tamil Nadu, which was first among the States to raise an alarm over the Tablighi Jamaat events, is among the worst-affected in the country due to the Nizamuddin congregations.
Since last weekend, the Tamil Nadu government appears to have softened its stance towards Coronavirus cases traced to the Nizamuddin event.
The filing of a First Information Report (FIR) against a popular Tamil Nadu video blogger for explaining the dangers posed by the Tablighi Jamaat through a recording is another indicator of a change in the state government’s approach.
“The ruling All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government is going soft on the Tablighi Jamaat, keeping in mind the Assembly elections due next year,” a political observer said without wishing to be identified.
Almost all political parties in Tamil Nadu, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are toeing a soft line on the Tablighi Jamaat issue.
Last week, the state BJP leader L Murugan made a plea to not communalise the rise in Coronavirus cases, after many of those who returned from the Nizamuddin congregation tested positive.
Murugan was criticised for his stand in social media since those who had returned from Nizamuddin had adopted an aggressive posture when police or health officials approached them for screening.
The AIADMK government led by Edappadi K Palaniswami in Tamil Nadu is toeing a soft line following a meeting of five Islamic organisations in Chennai on 5 April.
The five organisations — Tamil Nadu Jamaat Ulema Society, Indian Union Muslim League, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, Social Democratic Party of India and Tabligh Jamaat — met and passed eight resolutions.
Some sort of quid pro quo seems to have been worked out, thus indicating the soft approach of the state government and the resolutions.
Three important resolutions passed at the meeting were:
One, all mosques would be closed until the nation-wide lockdown is lifted.
Two, all those who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregations had submitted themselves to health screening and all Health Department staff in Tamil Nadu should follow the example of those who are taking such attendees and their family without “causing any tension”.
Three, the leaders of the five organisations thanked the Tamil Nadu government for taking action against those carrying out “defamatory campaigns” in social media and it should continue to take strict action against such people.
The resolution on action against those in social media is a sort of giveaway. Hardly 24 hours ago, the state police had filed an FIR against vlogger Maridhas on charges of “spreading hatred”.
Political observes say that the resolutions and the Tamil Nadu government’s softening stance are indications of “some arrangement” being worked out.
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