Home Religion & Spirituality Tablighi Jamat Religious Congregation: Who Is At Fault?

Tablighi Jamat Religious Congregation: Who Is At Fault?

We Indians do not have to take sides, we just need to acknowledge the truth and improvise on our mistakes so that we deal with this current health crisis.

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On 13th of March the Ministry of Health circular says Corona virus is NOT a Health Emergency. Tablighi Jamaat organizes a religious congregation of about 4000 people (a few reports say 8000 people) at Nizamuddin from 13th to 15th of March. And that gathering included people from across many states of India as well as from beyond the borders. Honorable PM announced One day curfew for 22nd March, which was followed by complete lockdown from 23rd March. All of these raise one single question, who is at fault?

The first identified case of COVID-19 was in December 2019. And the World Health organization (WHO) declared it as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020. What was the government doing during the duration window, extending more than 50 days. And what were the Tablighi Jamaat leaders thinking while they organized such huge gathering? So, both stand at fault equally. There is an important line to draw before commenting on both the sides of the argument. Markaz Nizamuddin, where people flock from across the globe, more or less has hundreds of people visiting, staying throughout the year. The day when the Hon’ble Prime Minister announced the Janata Curfew, the program in Nizamuddin was discontinued. Following which, with the announcement of nationwide lockdown many did leave the venue to return back to their natives. And those who couldn’t leave were forced to stay in the Markaz due to unavailability of transport facilities. The Markaz has been cooperative with the authorities with any further inspection that was conducted at the premises.

The government had to proceed with better planning of pre-lockdown measures and better communication of the same to its people. It failed in doing so in time. And when it did actually announce a lockdown, people didn’t have enough time to return back to their homes. Which of course created a lot of confusion, and instead of physical distancing (being referred to by the media as social distancing), we had socializing of people throughout the country. The one day curfew helped us see efforts of the government fading, once people were out to clap. The sudden stoppage of public transport with a minimal notice period made the condition of stranded people worse. The response of authorities when Tablighi Jamaat leaders approached them for issuance of passes so that people could get back homes extended the stay of people at Nizamuddin.

To add on to this, we saw, heard and then forgot, or rather a part of the mainstream media made us forget the plight of the migrant daily wage workers, who were desperately putting their efforts to return back to their home, with no food and money to fill their bellies with. The mainstream media showed us the inhumane side of ourselves. Trying their level best to create a public discourse through communal polarization at times of this health crisis, is a demonstration of how low the media has fallen in appeasing the interests of the powerful. A majority of the mainstream media has been tirelessly trying to shift the focus from millions of migrant workers to Nizamuddin. There is no denying that Nizamuddin gathering shouldn’t have happened. But the media cannot give a deaf ear to the painful screams of the migrant workers. The depiction or projection of those stationed in Nizamuddin as to hiding there, which eventually was termed as Corona Jihad by a few selective elements of the media, raises question on the role that media has to play and what it has been doing?

Most of those in the mainstream media never thought of discussing how the virus could spread when almost four lakh people were stranded in Anand Vihar to get on to buses or how effectively social distancing was maintained when people ran into each other and boarded jam-packed buses or how precautions were taken to keep check of the spread of the virus when migrant workers chose to walk on foot to their homes or how the lives of poor migrant workers were put at stake by the chemical bath? All of this and media chose to come up with a communal story.

In all of this Tablighi Jamaat leadership stands at fault too. The organizing of a religious congregation, when the news is well known that a certain virus is spreading, and people have to maintain physical distance to avoid its spreading, is in itself the beginning of a huge problem. Whether the government has announced a lockdown or not, it was the religious, spiritual, social, moral and humanitarian responsibility of the leaders to take a last moment call to cancel or postpone the gathering until the spreading of virus was under control. Tablighi Jamaat leaders didn’t do so and has landed itself and many other people into this fuss. The understanding of the Holy Quran, the Sunnah, the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) clearly draw a line on what needs to be done and what not in case of an outbreak like this one. And yet, the appropriate decision was not taken, and the leaders have landed the attendees into the fold of this virus. Not just that, the virus can spread through them.

While all of this, the whole episode could have been prevented from happening if government had stopped international flights or all international passengers were quarantined at some selected places, which would have prevented international attendees from coming to Markaz or if government had put a stop on all public gatherings including celebrations or if the Markaz had postponed the congregation. We Indians do not have to take sides, we just need to acknowledge the truth and improvise on our mistakes so that we deal with this current health crisis and come out successful with least causalities.

1 COMMENT

  1. Well written piece But what should be the response for the vilification of TJ and targeted attack on the idea of congregations at Masajids? How one should respond to the visit of Ajit Dowal at the Markaz Nizamuddin? One should know visit of Doval automatically becomes the issue of National security. Does the congregation amounts to the question of National security? How acknowledging the mistake of TJ will address the rot in the society which is racist as well as Islamophobic. For instance spitting on the face of north east student at North Campus of DU and calling them Corona Vurus.

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