‘We have forgiven Indian media’: Tablighi Jamaat members

Hyderabad: A year after nationwide condemnation was manufactured towards them for participating in the Tablighi Jamaat’s Delhi Markaz (in Nizamuddin) during the early stage of COVID-19 proliferation, the attendees of the congregation have made peace with the entire fracas. Jamaat members have let go of their anger towards the media that criminalized them for something they never did, and believe they are vindicated.

“We have forgiven the Indian media, those who criticized and called us ‘terrorists’. We have strict orders from the Markaz to not talk to the media about the incident last year,” Shoaib (name changed), a lifelong member of the Tablighi Jamaat, told Siasat.com.

Another member, Abdul Rahman (name changed), said that fake cases were filed in different courts across the country against Tablighi Jamaat members for no reason at all. “We won them all, because the allegations were baseless,” Rahman said. He added that they were all taught to handle all problems with patience and that “there is easy after every hardship eventually,” quoting an ayat (line) from the Holy Quran.

“It was a time of a lot stress and humiliation as media spread unprecedented lies against us. But Maulana Saad (the head of Tablighi Jamaat) who gave us hope during these distressing times and said: Da’ee kabhi maayus nahi hota (someone who spreads the word of God doesn’t get disheartened),” Rahman added.

On March 31, the first FIR was registered against the congregation organisers, including Maulana Saad. Later, 29 other FIRs were registered at different police stations in the New Delhi, and cases were also filed in other states as well. It may be noted that the Tablighi Jamaat, which had hundreds of people congregating in Delhi in March last year, had taken permission for the same.

Another member, who requested anonymity, said: “The government was aware of the foreigners who came to attend the markaz. Yet, they acted in such a way that they had no idea such an event was taking place.” He added that religious congregations like these happen frequently at Markaz , but that it was made to look like they were carrying out an “evil conspiracy”.

Another member said that women, wives of members, were forced into quarantine centers and that the police also targeted the foreigners who came from various parts of the world. “They blacklisted many foreigners and who were in a hurry to go back home had to pay penalties and go home. Others fought the cases and won them in different courts,” the Tablighi Jamaat member from Hyderabad told Siasat.com.

On completion of the investigation, 48 chargesheets and 11 supplementary chargesheets were filed arraying 953 foreign nationals of 36 different countries as accused. Many of these were booked under various sections under IPC and Epidemics Act and were let off upon payment of fines.

Advocate Mandla, who represented all the 953 foreigners during the trials, said the last batch of eight foreigners left for their respective countries on March 8, 2021. Altaf (name changed) said that many members fought depression all this while and we suffered a lot mentally, but that it’s all forgiven because that’s what his “Deen teaches” him . 

“If Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) could forgive the people of Tai’f who pelted stones at him,  made fun of him and abused him, why can’t we forgive those who wronged us, we expect our justice to be done on the day of judgment,” he added.

An year later, now, as the country witnesses another fresh wave of COVID-19 cases and fatalities, lakhs of Hindu devotees with complete governmental backing, attend the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar ignoring the most basic protocols while the Delhi High Court allowed 50 people to offer namaz at Tabhlighi markaz. The BJP-led center and its supporters, who had slandered the Tablighi congregation terming it ‘Corona Jihad’, is conveniently turning a blind eye to the crowd. The politics of selective COVID-19 policing and outrage is evident.’

Trial by media

Moreover, several major media houses across the country literally aired shows about the Tablighi Jamaat gathering, and made it seem as if Muslims were responsible for spreading COVID-19 in the country. Even at its peak, the cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi were not more than one third of the total cases, during the virus’s nascent stage.

Major channels like Republic TC and Aaj Tak went right, left and centre after the Tablighi Jamaat incident, while Whatsapp groups across the country were awash with fake videos about Muslims spreading the virus in India. It led to the community getting castigated and getting discriminated against across cities and states. While the Jamaat was at fault, it was proved beyond doubt by courts that they did not gather with an intention to spread the virus.

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