On April 11, Alt News Co-founder and serial fake news peddler Mohammed Zubair wrote on Twitter, “Leading by example, Surat Dy Mayor Nirav Shah shares a video of him attending a ‘religious ceremony’ presided by Jain Monks.” The caption was accompanied by a video wherein the Surat Mayor could be seen prostrating in front of a Jain monk.
Leading by example, Surat Dy Mayor Nirav Shah shares a video of him attending a religious ceremony presided by Jain monks. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Xzfic4sVTH— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) April 11, 2020
What is the Truth?
A longer video of the same event was shared by Nirav Shah on his Facebook page. During the first leg of the video, Jain devotees, along with Dy Mayor Nirav Shah, who also happens to be a Jain, is seen greeting the monks and paying a ritualistic obeisance to them. Jainism entails a ritual where an adherent has to bow down before the monks and ask for their well being when they meet them. This is not a “religious ceremony” as contended by the uninitiated individuals like Mr Zubair.
Later, the Jain monk could be heard appreciating the relief work being carried out. Another leader said that the money and supply of food would be taken care of. He added that everyone was free to take as much food they want for the relief work.
A closer look at the banner, seen at 6:27 minutes sheds more light on the truth. The loose translation from Gujarati reads as, “Feed the stray animals and birds during the Coronavirus pandemic and exhibit humanity.”
Another picture from the event with stockpile of food to be distributed for relief work further confirms the point.
One of the key facets of Jainism is “Jiva Daya”, meaning showing mercy and compassion towards all the other living beings, including those invisible microorganisms who exist in the air surrounding us. This explains why the Jain monks in one of the above pictures hold a white-coloured handkerchief, called as “Muhpatti” in Jain parlance, to avoid hurting those invisible microbes around them while speaking.
Amidst the lockdown, since most of the people are mandated by the government enforced restrictions to stay at home, there are fewer prospects for the speechless animals and birds to get food for themselves. Street animals may get emaciated and many may not be able to survive the ordeal. It is to this end that Jain monks in Surat organised an initiative to help the stray animals and birds sate their appetite and slake their thirst. In the video, the monks are simply applauding the relief work carried out by the individuals and motivating them to help even greater number of people and animals in distress.
Earlier, PM Modi has repeatedly asked the citizens of the country to be heedful of the food needs of the speechless animals and birds around them who will be worst-hit by the harsh restrictions. PM Modi had appealed people to feed such animals and birds with food and water and prevent them from starving to death.
The ‘religious ceremony’ which Mr Zubair claims was in fact a meeting presided over by the Jain monks to devise a strategy to provide food to the needy and destitute in Surat as well the stray animals and birds devoid of the food due to stringent lockdown. Being the Deputy Mayor of Surat, Nirav Shah simply attended the meeting to oversee the measures taken by the Jain community and guide them in the effective implementation of the same.
It was not a religious congregation by any stretch of the imagination, as asserted by Mohammed Zubair, who is trying to paint all the faiths from the same brush with the ulterior aim of absolving Muslim members of Tablighi Jamaat members who wantonly violated the lockdown restrictions and partook in transforming their centre of Markaz Nizamuddin into a raging coronavirus hotspot.
There is a stark contrast between the two events that Mr Zubair is trying to equate, in order to extenuate the criminal role of Tablighi Jamaat members in spreading the coronavirus across the country. While the defiant holdouts of Tablighi Jamaat members deliberately wreaked havoc which was illustrated by their perverse behaviour of spitting on healthcare workers, taking a dump in the corridor of the quarantine facility and intentionally concealing their travel history to the Markaz Nizamuddin, the Jain community members in Surat, were involved in helping the underprivileged, disadvantaged and speechless animals who are amongst worst-hit by the scourge of coronavirus outbreak.
It is evident that the event was aimed at voluntary relief work and not a religious congregation as suggested by Mohammed Zubair. Ever since the role of Tablighi Jamaat has been exposed in endangering public health and safety, apologists and closet Islamists have left no stone unturned to defend them through whataboutery or deliberately misinterpreting social work as a religious event. Mohammed Zubair is a serial purveyor of fake news. Last year, the Alt News co-founder, who has often displayed Islamist tendencies was found shielding radical Islamists who may have been responsible for the serial bomb blasts in Sri Lanka.