The Markaz, Nizamuddin in Delhi, the global centre for the Tablighi Jamaat, is suspected to be the ground zero of hundreds of potential infections of the Wuhan Coronavirus. On Monday, the Delhi Government announced that it will request the Delhi Police to register an FIR against the Maulana of the Masjid for jeopardizing the safety and security of the nation in the wake of the deadly pandemic. Since then, numerous other developments have occurred regarding the Islamic organization.
As per reports, the religious conference occurred between the 1st and 15th of March. At least eight people who had attended the event have died of the disease. As many as 163 people who had attended the gathering at Markaz have been admitted to the Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi after showing symptoms of the Chinese Coronavirus. Apart from numerous states of India, the religious gathering was also attended by Muslims from other countries. As the fallout of the gathering becomes imminent, states are now running helter-skelter to track the individuals who had attended the event.
The government of Tamil Nadu has announced that around 1,500 people attended the event at Markaz, Nizamuddin and 981 of them have already been tracked. They are currently being tested. The government of Telangana has identified 194 people and they have been put under quarantine. The list compiled by Jammu and Kashmir’s administration of those who had either attended the event or come in contact with those who had included hundreds of Kashmiris. It is estimated that the gathering was attended by around 2000 delegates. Over 250 foreigners had stayed at the facility’s six-floor dormitory. Adjoining the mosque is the Basti Nizamuddin, which has a population of over 25,000 people.
It is quite evident that there was remarkable irresponsibility on the part of the administration of the Tableeghi Jamaat that has led to this utter catastrophe. However, attempts are underway to give them a free pass and instead harp on about some letters that the authorities had written to the Police a week ago. Gaurav Pandhi, the national coordinator of the Congress party’s social media operations, claimed that those at Markaz, Nizamuddin were stuck due to the lockdown and had been in constant touch with the authorities thereafter. According to him, the Government is “Evil” to take action against them.
Those who attended the congregation at Nizamuddin were stuck due to the lockdown & thereafter were in constant touch with the Admin/Govt and also wrote to the ACP Seeking Permission To Let Them Go, to avoid having so many people at same place.— Gaurav Pandhi (@GauravPandhi) March 31, 2020
Govt Is Evil To Go Against Them! pic.twitter.com/oVkVQ2ipWU
Letters written by the Tableeghi Jamaat, dated 28th of March and 25th, are also going around which supposedly shows the efforts made by the authorities of the Islamic organization to cooperate with the Police. These letters are now being used to absolve them of all sins and instead, shift the blame of the catastrophe on others.
These letters written by officials of Tableeghi Jamaat say that all members of the jamaat had arrived at the markaz before the lockdown was announced. And that all details were shared with SHO on March 24. Requests were also made to help “de-congest” the area pic.twitter.com/sSs95IKLwg— Vasudha Venugopal (@vasudha_ET) March 30, 2020
There is only one problem with the entire justification put forward in Tableeghi Jamaat’s defense. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had issued an order as early as the 16th of March announcing a complete ban on social, religious and political gatherings of more than 50 people in the national capital. The actions of the Jamaat are in clear violation of the AAP supremo’s order. As per their own admission, communication was established with the authorities on the 24th of March, more than a week after Kejriwal’s orders banning gathering of more than fifty. And they had several times more than that number housed in the premises of Markaz, Nizamuddin.
One Ashraf, who lives near Markaz, Nizamuddin, said that people had been entering the Masjid as late as the 22nd of March, in clear violation of Arvind Kejriwal’s orders. It was only as late as the 21st of March that people who had come to the congregation had started going back, according to him. It was claimed that help was sought to vacate the premises but “no help came our way” but in hindsight, it was for the best of everyone that they continued to stay there instead of traveling elsewhere and taking the virus along with them in other parts of the country.
From 21/3 people who had come for congregation had started going back, yes some foreigners were there but most had left. We tried sending people who were here because we couldn’t maintain social distancing, no help came our way: Ashraf, who lives near Markaz. #Nizamuddin pic.twitter.com/mZpAQ0fVw5— Smita Prakash (@smitaprakash) March 31, 2020
By the admission of the authorities of Markaz, Nizamuddin itself, there were at least 2500 people in the Masjid until the 23rd of March. That is fifty times more than the limit of fifty imposed on gatherings by Arvind Kejriwal a week earlier. On the 23rd, 1500 of them vacated the premises and at least some of them took the virus elsewhere in the country.
…thus leaving around 1000 visitors of different states & nationalities in Markaz. It was also informed that Ld. SDM concerned had been requested to issue vehicle passes so that remaining people could be sent back to their native places outside of Delhi: Markaz, Delhi (2/3)— ANI (@ANI) March 31, 2020
The Home Ministry has now announced that foreigners who attended the Tableeghi Jamaat event were in violation of rules for Indian Visa. As per policy guidelines of Indian Visa issued by the Government of India, preaching religious ideologies, making speeches in religious places, distribution of audio-visual display/pamphlets pertaining to religious ideologies is not allowed. The foreigners may be barred from entering the country in the future.
As per policy guidelines of Indian Visa issued by GoI, preaching religious ideologies, making speeches in religious places, distribution of audio-visual display/ pamphlets pertaining to religious ideologies is not allowed. All foreigners who attended may be barred: Govt sources https://t.co/zWWi1wqWnf— ANI (@ANI) March 31, 2020
Thus, it’s quite clear that the Tableeghi Jamaat and authorities at the Markaz, Nizamuddin flouted all rules and regulations and jeopardized the safety and security of the country in the process. However, some individuals and ‘journalists’ are more concerned about the ‘rightwing’ linking the Chinese Coronavirus to religion. According to Rajdeep Sardesai, it is ‘inhuman’ and he begged everyone to ‘once keep religion out of this’.
I was waiting for RW to link corona to religion. The tragic deaths of people after a Tableegi Jamaat congregation has provided that chance. To link corona to religion when thousands across the world ACROSS religions are dying is INHUMAN. Let’s for once keep religion out of this.— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) March 31, 2020
As noble as Rajdeep Sardesai’s intentions may seem, it is an undeniable reality that the Tableeghi Jamaat and members of the Muslim community have been constantly undermining the threat posed by the Wuhan Coronavirus and engaging in behaviour that is immensely irresponsible, to put it mildly. For instance, the protesters at Shaheen Bagh believed that it was a conspiracy to stop the protests. Muslims on TikTok have been making videos that suggest that death is preferable to abandoning Islamic practices. They have also been gathering in large numbers in public places on Fridays for their weekly prayers. All of this puts the health of everyone at risk.
Salman Nizami, a Congress leader from Kashmir, has chosen to blame the NDA government at the center for the mess created by the Tableeghi Jamaat. According to him, the central government is trying to turn it into a ‘Hindu-Muslim issue’ by blaming ‘poor Muslims’ who had ‘no choice’ but to gather in large numbers for ‘food and shelter’. He also said, “FIR should be lodged against Delhi CM Kejriwal for his carelessness, be it Nizamudin or other places where people were on roads. 25+ labourers have died. There were no arrangements, people had to take shelter in mosque. Request for evacuation was ignored. This CM is incompetent!”
People who took shelter at Nizamuddin mosque are those poor helpless Muslims who were not taken home by Air India Plane. Govt is trying to make Hindu-Muslim issue by blaming the poor Muslims who were left with no choice but to gather in groups for food & shelter in lockdown!— Salman Nizami (@SalmanNizami_) March 31, 2020
The Tableeghi Jamaat, meanwhile, has spread the virus not only in India but across the world. An event in Malaysia spread the pandemic to several countries. Another in Pakistan spread the virus across the country and elsewhere around the world. Meanwhile, authorities have either failed to stop the event or showed no inclinations to stop them. A Policeman in Pakistan was stabbed by a Tableeghi Jamaat member while trying to escape quarantine.
Ingrained religious bigotry has aided the spread of the virus and it is undeniable. In Iran, for instance, a country crippled by the Wuhan Coronavirus, the religious authorities failed to curb its spread and people were going around licking and kissing the Islamic shrines. Even so, certain individuals appear more concerned with giving these bigots a free pass in the name of secularism instead of tackling the menace head-on.