Tablighi Jamat:JUH moves SC seeking end to spread of ‘fake news’

New Delhi: Alleging that a section of the media is spreading communal hatred over last month’s Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre to stop dissemination of “fake news” and take strict action against those responsible for it.

The plea filed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and the secretary of its legal cell, through lawyer Ejaz Maqbool, contended that the unfortunate incident of the Tablighi Jamaat was being used to “demonise” and blame the entire Muslim community.

At least 9,000 people had participated in the religious gathering at Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters in Nizamuddin West last month. The congregation became a key source for the spread of COVID-19 in India as many of the participants travelled to various parts of the country for missionary works.

Out of the over 4,000 cases of coronavirus in the country, at least 1,445 have been found to be linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, the Union health ministry said on Monday.

The plea has sought directions to the Centre to stop dissemination of fake news and take strict action against the section of the media spreading bigotry and communal hatred in relation to the Nizamuddin Markaz issue.

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In addition to this, there are several fake reports and videos circulating on social media, showing Muslims in bad light, the plea contended.

“It is submitted that such reporting has triggered communal antagonism and has also perpetrated hatred, resulting in fissiparous tendencies gaining foothold, undermining and affecting communal harmony,” the plea said.

The petition stated that this “demonisation” of the community has led to serious “threat to life and liberty of Muslims”, and has thus led to the violation of their “right to life under Article 21” of the Constitution.

The petition has also sought direction to all sections of the media to strictly comply with the Supreme Court directions asking them to maintain strong sense of responsibility and ensure that unverified news is not disseminated.

Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind sought direction to the Centre to stop the dissemination of fake news and take strict action against the sections of the media spreading bigotry and communal hatred in connection with Nizamuddin Markaz.

The pleas, filed through advocate Ejaz Maqbool, said: “By communalising the issue and demonising the entire Muslim community, the actions of the media pose a serious threat to the life and liberty of Muslims across the country. The demonisation is also an infringement of the right to live with dignity which is also covered under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

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On March 30, the Nizamuddin area in Delhi was sealed as an event of the Muslim religious organisation called the Tablighi Jamaat that was attended by hundreds of people who were found to be infected by the novel coronavirus.

According to the Centre, out of the over 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, 1,445 cases have been epidemiologically linked to Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin, and over 25,000 local members of the Tablighi Jamaat and their contacts have been quarantined.

The petitioner contended the apex court to issue directions to prevent the communalisation of the Nizamuddin Markaz issue by certain sections of media and electronic media. “Subsequently on March 31, the incident made national headlines. However, certain sections of the media, instead of exercising restraint, reported the entire incident with a communal flavour, with phrases such as Corona Jihad, Corona Terrorism, Islamic Insurrection, Corona bombs etc., It was apparent that the unfortunate incident of the Tablighi Jamat was being used to demonize and blame the entire Muslim community,” said the petition.

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