As hundreds of cases of COVID-19 with the history of their visit to the congregation organised by Tablighi Jamaat emerge from various parts of the country, sending authorities scrambling to contain the extent of the spread of the contagion, Jamia Coordination Committee and ‘Muslim Students of JNU’- a Facebook page once operated by the mastermind of Shaheen Bagh protest, Sharjeel Imam, have come to defend the Jamaat as it faces the wrath of the authorities for organising a large gathering and providing a breeding ground for the virus to spawn.
The Delhi Police had yesterday registered FIR against Tablighi Jamaat preacher Maulana Saad and other members of the outfit under section 3 of The Epidemic Diseases Act (1897) for organizing the congregation at the times of severe lockdown amidst the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
The event which gave rise to the numerous positive cases of coronavirus across states was organized in the mid-march. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday claimed that 1,548 people were evacuated from the Markaz Tablighi Jamaat over the past three days. Out of these, 441 people were found with the symptoms of COVID-19 and have been isolated at the hospitals while others are quarantined.
In support of Tablighi Jamaat, the ‘Muslim Students of JNU’ uploaded an image on its Facebook page, expressing solidarity with the Jamaat and demanding cancellation of FIR filed against the Jamaat management. The Facebook page which was once handled by Sharjeel Imam, who advocated the secession of the NE states from India and incited communal passions, also tried to cast the delinquent management of Jamaat as victims by accusing the government of being ‘Islamophobic’ for initiating action against them.
In addition, the ‘Jamia Coordination Committee’, an unofficial body that was also involved in organising anti-CAA protests in Delhi, also jumped in to defend the criminal acts of Tablighi Jamaat. The Committee took to Twitter to release a detailed statement, voicing their disapproval against the action initiated against the fundamentalist group. Defending the Muslim clerics of Jamaat who were found spitting out on roads while they were being transported to the treatment centres, the JCC ascribed the punitive measures taken against them to “bigotry and Islamophobic fantasies of the government”.
Their only fault is not abandoning their people unlike the govt which abandoned the migrant labourers and left them to die. We will not let the failures of this bigoted govt be washed over with Islamophobic fantasies and communal tantrums. We stand with the Nizamuddin Markaz. ✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/gmABj53xXY— Jamia Coordination Committee (@Jamia_JCC) March 31, 2020
In the press note released by the JCC, the group passes the buck for the prolong and cramped stay of Muslim clerics in Nizamuddin to the central and Delhi state government, stating that the call for a lockdown by the government diminished the chances of these visitors availing transport for their journey back home.
Defending the congregation and their subsequent stay at Markas Nizamuddin, the statement read, “Suddenly on the evening of 23rd March, a further nationwide lockdown was announced by the Honourable Prime Minister with an explicit message for people to stay-put wherever they are. Under such compelling circumstances, there was no option for Markas Nizamuddin but to accommodate the stranded visitors with prescribed medical precautions till such time that situation becomes conducive for their movement or arrangement are made by the authorities.”
JCC went on to vindicate Markas of any wrongdoing, claiming that “Markas never violated any provision of law, and always tried to act with compassion and reason towards visitors who came to Delhi from different states. It did not let them violate any medical guidelines by thronging ISBTs or roaming on the streets.”
However, JCC’s statement doesn’t explain why the Muslim clerics in Jamaat who exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 deliberately spit out on roads, thereby aggravating the threat of coronavirus in the national capital. The JCC has also failed to elaborate that if the Muslim evangelists who visited the Markas Nizamuddin were diligently abiding by the medical precautions and government advisories, why some of them have been found hiding in mosques across several states, instead of undertaking self-quarantine?
Though the nation-wide lockdown came on 24 March, the Delhi government had already banned the gathering of more than 50 persons at one place back on 16 March. Before that, it had prohibited all sports gatherings, including IPL matches, as well as conferences and seminars having 200 or more people back on 13 March.
This is a typical modus operandi used by Islamist organisations. When their co-religionists are called out for their patently criminal and catastrophic activities, they quickly rush to their defence by accusing the dispensation of exhibiting anti-Muslim bigotry and painting the transgressors as victims to garner sympathy. By employing this two-pronged approach, such organisations try to extenuate the culprits by engendering a sympathy wave for them while reinforcing their propaganda.