Five Reasons Why Tablighi Jamaat Should Own Up Responsibility For The Fallout Of Its Delhi Congregation

by M R Subramani - Apr 2, 2020 06:55 PM +05:30 IST
Five Reasons Why Tablighi Jamaat Should Own Up Responsibility For The Fallout Of Its Delhi CongregationPeople who participated in the event.
  • There is no doubt that the Nizamuddin congregation has turned into one of the main hotspots of Covid-19 in India.

    But there are a few apologists who are still in a state of denial.

The total number of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in India has increased to 1,965 with 50 deaths, according to a Health Ministry official this morning (2 April).

Former member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council Shamika Ravi has tweeted that a clear and significant growth in coronavirus cases is being seen in the country with the numbers doubling every four days.

This is true particularly after the effects of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Delhi’s Nizamuddin Banglewali Markaz in mid-March began to unfold.

From less than 800 on 28 March, a day before details of the Aalami Mashawara, the event of the congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz, could emerge, it has now shot to nearly 2,000.

There seems to be no doubt whatsoever over the fact that the Nizamuddin congregation has turned into one of the main hotspots of Covid-19 in India, but there are a few apologists who are still in a state of denial.

For example, this report in Kerala-based Madhyamam quotes the Banglewali Markaz authorities to throw the ball back in the government’s court.

One of the arguments put forth by those who are trying to defend the Aalami Mashwara organisers is that the event was held in mid-March and on 13 March the Ministry of Health had said in a circular that coronavirus was not an emergency.

They are pointing fingers at a Hindu Mahasabha gau mutra event on 16 March in Delhi or even thousands of devotees who had thronged shrines like Tirupati Tirumala.

This argument is specious and an attempt to hide a huge pumpkin in a morsel of rice. Here are five reasons why such an argument doesn’t hold water and the Tablighi Jamaat should own up the responsibility.

First, the Banglewali Markaz is the international headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat. Weren’t the heads of the Jamaat aware of the consequences of the Malaysia Ijitma Asia event that took place at the Petaling Markaz in Selangor?

The Ijitma Asia event that took place between 28 February and 2 March has become the main coronavirus vector in South-East Asia. Half of the nearly 3,000 coronavirus cases in Malaysia got infected from the Petaling Markaz event in which over 16,000 people from various countries across the world took part.

Is the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters so weak that it did not receive any reports of other members who have got infected after attending the Malaysia event? If yes is the answer, then they need to respond to the issue raised below.

Two, an event similar to the Malaysian Ijitma Asia was scheduled to be held in Indonesia’s Sulawesi province from 18 March to 22 March. The event was cancelled on fears that it could accelerate the spread of coronavirus. How was this decision taken? Weren’t the top leaders of the Tablighi Jamaat informed?

It also causes concern with regard to the Tablighi Jamaat attitude towards India. If the Tablighi Jamaat leaders could cancel an event in Indonesia, which has the largest number of Muslims in the world, why did not they cancel the Nizamuddin event that was held a day or two ahead of it?

Three, there were telltale signs of the impending danger. The apologists’ argument pointing to the Health Ministry circular does not wash for two reasons.

First, the Delhi government issued an order banning gatherings of over 200 on 13 March. Two, the previous day it had ordered self-isolation of those who had visited countries affected by Covid-19. Why didn’t the Tablighi Jamaat leaders take notice of this?

Second, on 16 March, the Health Ministry called for social distancing in view of the dangers posed by rising cases of coronavirus in India. Why did the Nizamuddin Markaz continue to play host to the Tablighis even as late as 23 March? The Delhi government too cut the size of gatherings to 50 the same day.

Four, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan said he had come across videos on YouTube in which Tablighi Jamaat chief exhorts people to ignore all advisories and telling the followers that they were false stories and conspiracies to lockdown mosques. He, in fact, asked them to stay back at the Markaz.

On 27 March, Maulana Saad, one of the senior-most clerics of the Tablighi Jamaat, asked the members to continue coming as it was the only way to beat coronavirus. Can the apologists respond to this?

Five, from around 10 March people had begun avoiding to crowd public places. Quite a few educational institutions restricted the number of people attending even graduation ceremony.

These colleges, in which one of the children of those who attended the Nizamuddin congregation could have studied, said in view of the danger posed by coronavirus, parents could watch the ceremony through live links.

There could have been other states such as Karnataka, where similar restrictions would have begun. How did the Tablighi Jamaat leadership be oblivious to these developments?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet cancelled Holi milans in view of the dangers posed by coronavirus. When a prime minister takes such a decision, giving traditions and customs a go-by, why not the others, especially the Alami Mashwara organisers?

As citizens of the the country, we are expected to behave responsibly, not endangering others’ lives and properties. Is responsibility the patent of only a select few communities and people?

The apologists would do a world of good to the global community by not defending the indefensible.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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