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Maharashtra: MBBS book linking COVID-19 outbreak to Tablighi Jamaat withdrawn after objections raised by Students Islamic Organisation

The Tablighi Jamaat congregation was held in Nizamuddin Markaz in the first half of March. Scores of people who attended the event had later tested positive for the coronavirus. Many of them were later arrested and faced legal action.

A reference book for the second-year students of MBBS in Maharashtra has created a stir after its contents linked the coronavirus outbreak in the country to the infamous Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi in March 2020. The book was later withdrawn after objections were raised for ascribing the COVID-19 outbreak to the event organised by the Islamic seminary.

An apology was issued by the authors of the third edition of the book titled ‘Essentials of Medical Microbiology’ for attributing the flare-up to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation.

The Students Islamic Organisation had raised objections over the claims made in the book. The organisation claimed there was no epidemiological study to conclude that the COVID-19 spread was hastened because of the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat.

Following the objection, the book’s authors – Dr Apurba Sastry and Dr Sandhya Bhat – apologised “if they inadvertently hurt the sentiments of a group of people”. The authors also assured that necessary changes will be made in the new edition.

The withdrawal of the book was also confirmed by a government official. The organisation has welcomed the decision to withdraw the reference book.

Tablighi Jamaat congregation and the spread of COVID-19

The Tablighi Jamaat congregation was held in Nizamuddin Markaz in the first half of March. Scores of people who attended the event had later tested positive for the coronavirus. Many of them were later arrested and faced legal action. At one point, the congregation had contributed to about 30 per cent of the total active cases in the country.

It was termed as a mega-spreader of coronavirus in India, as many as more than one-third of cases in India are linked to that event now. The Muslims who had attended the event, and their family members and those who came into contact with them are testing positive regularly, contributing to the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

The labelling of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation as the most potent COVID-19 hotspot was also precipitated by the fact that many of those who attended the event and tested positive for the coronavirus threw tantrums and misbehaved with the medical staff. A large number of Tablighi Jamaatis had reportedly spat on the doctors, nurses, ward-boys at the quarantine centres. In another instance, a few of the quarantined Tablighi Jamaat members were reported to have defecated in open.

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