Until Modi’s “Janta Curfew” announcement on March 21st nobody in India took COVID-19 seriously. It was only after that announcement that people started staying indoors and avoided unnecessary travel. Even religious leaders and masjid Imams were not taking COVID-19 seriously in spite of the fact that Grand Mosque in Mecca was closed around March 1st week. In Kashmir there were people who continued to go to visit Masjids and in fact rejected the health advisories. Ajaz ul Haque had written a beautiful piece titled ” The virus doesn’t know that ” (GK March 22nd) wherein he had lambasted religious leaders for not understanding the gravity of the situation. When COVID-19 positive cases started increasing day by day in J&K, people got to know the intensity of this viral infection. With regard to spread of this viral pandemic through members of Tableegi Jamat, one needs to understand the whole situation right from March 13th on-wards when Delhi Government issued its first advisory.
March 13th order
Delhi government has described the congregation at Tableegi Jamat Markaz Nizamuddin as a criminal act that was carried out in violation of prohibitory orders.
The Delhi government on March 13th 2020 exercising powers conferred by the Delhi Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19, Regulations, 2020, and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897—prohibited all sports gatherings, including IPL matches, as well as conferences and seminars having 200 or more people. The congregation at the Nizamudin Markaz was a clear violation of the order and an FIR against Ameer of Tableegi Jamat Moulana Saad Kandhiveli has already been filed. A law abiding, and the largest Islamic religious movement of the world, Tableegi Jamat elders should have taken March 13th orders of Delhi Government very seriously. On the other hand who was to implement that order? Why didn’t concerned District Magistrate of the area or even Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) came to Tableegi Markaz to enforce the orders of Delhi Government on March 14th or 15th? Even the SHO could have enforced the order as Nizamudin Police Station is located just across the Tableegi Markaz (less than 100 meters distance). TV channels are running a video footage shot around March 23rd wherein local SHO addresses the Tableegi Markaz delegation but wasn’t that too late?
Whosoever goes to Tableegi Markaz for one night or more has to get himself or herself registered. A visitors dairy is maintained on daily basis wherein all the persons spending a night or more enter their name, address and mobile numbers. Local intelligence unit of Delhi police gets regular details about the daily dairy from the Tableegi markaz. Why didn’t Intelligence unit of Delhi Police alert the Government from March 13th to 22nd? The reason is because nobody was aware about the intensity of the COVID-19 infection in India? Leave aside Tableegi Markaz, thousands of people were traveling in Delhi Metro until Janta Curfew (March 22nd). There were dozens of religious, social and cultural gatherings taking place in Delhi and other cities from March 13th to 23rd. Tirupati Balaji temple which has an average footfall of 40,000 devotees was open until March 18th. More than 700 courts in India were working until March 21st and 20,000 trains were running until this time. An atmosphere has been created that makes people believe as if only Tableegi Jamat markaz was open from March 13th to 24th, all other religious & cultural centers were shut and the coranovirus has been spread by Tableegi people in India.
Markaz a Transit center
Tableegi Jamat Markaz at Hazrat Nizamudin is like a transit center. As per my information there was not a religious congregation but a meeting (mashwara) of the elders of the Jamat also called Zimedars. The Tableegi Jamat congregation, conference (Ijtema) is otherwise thronged by millions of people. After Hajj, the biggest annual event of Muslims is organised by Tableegi Jamat at Tongi in Bangladesh every year in December. More than 20 lakh people participate in this annual Ijtema. In December 2018 all previous records of people coming to a religious congregation were broken when around 1 crore Muslims participated in Alami Tableegi ijtema (World Tableegi Conference) at Bulandshahar in UP. In Bhopal also lakhs of people come for Tableegi ijtema every year. So to say there was an event like Ijtema etc at Tableegi Jamat Markaz is wrong. I have been told that it was an Aalmi Mashwara what can be called International Executive Committee meeting of around 1500 persons. The participants were from different states of India and other countries especially Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka etc had come. Most of the people who go for a Jamat (religious trip) for 40 days or 4 months in India do pay a visit to Nizamudin Markaz for one or two days especially those groups who travel around North India. The foreign groups definitely come to Nizamudin Markaz when they land in India. After completing their religious tour of 40 days or 4 months and even 1 year (for religious scholars), the Jamat members are again supposed to visit the markaz for one or two days. There is not even a single day when Nizamudin Markaz is not visited by at least 3000 to 4000 people daily.
Issue of foreigners
I am not able to understand why there is such a hue and cry about the foreign Jamat members found at Nizamudin markaz or other cities of India? They are held responsible for spreading COVID-19 at the Nizamudin Markaz. Did these people come to India illegally? No, not at all, as all of them have a valid visa issued by Government of India through its respective High Commissions. If Government apprehended spread of COVID-19 through these foreign Tableegi Jamat members why were they given the visas? Why they were not quarantined while landing at New Delhi airport or any other airport in India? Why didn’t Delhi Government keep a medical team outside the Tableegi Markaz in view of the fact that many foreign nationals visit the Markaz daily? Why didn’t airport immigration cells not maintain a list of such national who came to India around February and March for ensuring COVID 19 infection isn’t spread ?
These are important issues which Government needs to answer. The sudden 21 day national lock-down from March 24th created a chaos across India. More than 30,000 people were seen at Anand Vihar bus terminus on Delhi UP border during the lock-down why? How did that happen? The Tableegi Jamat members numbering around 1500 or more followed PMs orders …..stay where you are – “Jo Jahan hai Wahee Rahee”. Train services had been cancelled, many foreigners had return tickets after March 24th, where should have they gone during that chaos ?
I again reiterate that Tableegi Jamat elders should have cleared Markaz between March 13th to March 24th but at the same time Government officials like the concerned District Magistrate (DM), Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and even SHO are also to be blamed who didn’t come to Markaz to enforce the March 13th order of Delhi Government. Why didn’t they provide necessary assistance to the members of Tableegi Jamat who had got hold up inside the Markaz building?Lastly why didn’t media alert the authorities at the appropriate time? Had the news channels filed reports about presence of large number of people especially foreign nationals at Tableegi Jamat Markaz post March 13th order such a chaotic situation would not have arisen? I am not an advocate of Tableegi Jamat but at the same time one cannot remain quite when media wants to tarnish the image of Muslims through a sustained trolling of members of Tableegi Jamat.