This is not to defend a Muslim gathering. In the last two pieces, I have been critical of our mosques being open for obligatory prayers during this Pandemic, let alone any Tableeghi Jamaat. I wish there was no congregation at Hazrat Nizamuddin’s Masjid. However, the Indian media – with its teeming millions of receptive audience communalized even the disease. Some irresponsible commentators went to the extent of calling it a ‘pre-planned Jihad on Hindus’- as if calling a Muslim-only-gathering would have helped them achieve it. An average Indian Hindu has been made so adept to Islamophobia, that s/he somehow loses ability to reason, the moment anything anti-Muslim pops on the TV. Such is their incredulity that they don’t want to give benefit of doubt to the other party.
As per the BBC, this is Tableegh’s annual event, which commenced on March 3rd. Until 13th March, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had maintained that the Covid-19 situation was not a health emergency (Scroll). The Indian government issued visas to the foreign attendees of this conference, and let them enter the country without screening, when such a disaster in Malaysia had already taken place on 28th February. This was also a Tableegh event that resulted in spread of this disease in that country.
Moreover, the organizers have come up with documented evidence that they had informed multiple authorities about the people who were stuck in there, and sought vehicles from them to evacuate the attendees. These people were clearly stuck, and were not hiding. This was a governmental and administrative laxity. Even a celebrated Islamophobe – Subramanyam Swami questioned his own government as to why the flight-ban was not imposed early. He tweeted and I quote “The Tabligh mess would not have happened If foreigners were banned coming early (around Feb 1) and also Indians returning/coming to India were compulsory quarantined for 14 days kept in acquired hotels near the airport this mess would not have arisen. Why was this ban delayed?’’. You could not expect the Tableegh leadership to cancel the event mid-way when the government’s official stance was that Corona was NOT a health emergency.
Besides, at multiple occasions, gatherings were held by other people in India. On April 2nd, The Hindu reported a story titled ‘’Defying lockdown, devotees in Bengal assemble at temples on Ram Navami’’. Thaali-Taali hippodrome is known to all as well. Would any media outlet muster courage to relate this lackadaisical attitude to Hindu religion? In fact, this is not about courage. This is about what sells. I don’t have much against these media houses who are unethical business houses. I have complaints with the most people of India who want to see divisive reporting and enjoy it. This shoots up the TRP ratings for these channels, and they, like any other business, milk it as much as possible.