By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: Muslim organizations and leaders on Tuesday took a section of media, particularly electronic media to the task for using the Covid-19 pandemic for their “favorite pastime” of communal polarization by targeting Tablighi Jamaat.
They said the demonizing campaign is a clear ploy to divert attention from the government’s systemic failures and the migrant workers crisis.
Since the news broke on Saturday that some activists of Tablighi Jamaat stuck at its headquarters Markaz Nizamuddin found positive for Coronavirus , a section of media began its unrelenting campaign to lay blame on the Tablighi Jamaat for this pandemic in the country.
It is to be noted that as of now death toll due the virus is 35 and out of this seven are linked to Markaz Nizamuddin while out of 1,397 Covid-19 , cases more than 100 are linked to the Makaz.
Expressing his dismay on the role of media, the president (Amir) of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Syed Sadatullah Husaini said by targeting Tablighi Jamaat and ignoring the bigger and more important irresponsible gathering, it is “playing dirty politics of communal polarization” on such gigantic crisis. In his tweet, he further said this showed the low level of public discourse and mental bankruptcy of the media.
Targeting #TablighiJamaat & ignoring the bigger & more irresponsible gatherings; Playing dirty politics of communal polarization on such a huge #healthcrisis; It reflects shamefully low level of our public discourse.Let’s be more responsible & work unitedly to fight the #COVID19
— Syed Sadatullah Hussaini (@sadathusaini) March 31, 2020
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind president Maulana Syed Arshad Madani also lambasted the media for giving the communal colour to the Covid-19 cases found at Niazamuddin Markaz. Maulana Madani further said it is unfortunate the whole world has closed the rank in the battle against this dreaded pandemic, a section of media and certain groups are trying to divert the attention from the failures of the government.He also warned that such irresponsible behavior would weaken the fight and resolve against this pandemic.
Echoing similar sentiments, All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat, president Navaid Hamid said in this hour of crisis media’s “irresponsible and communal” attitude is highly deplorable. In his tweet, he highlighted that Tablighi had approached the concerned authorities for ferrying the stuck members to their respective native places homes but sadly they did not show any alacrity in this regard.
It's sad that sensible journalists too comment wid out investigative journalism. As per the available documentational proofs, #TableeghiJamaat had approached government officials including local police to help them in implementing all government directions. 1/7 https://t.co/ufhQZ4JN88 pic.twitter.com/dz3VqTGkEo
— Navaid Hamid نوید حامد (@navaidhamid) March 31, 2020
It is highly lamentable to target Tablighi Jamaat for the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country, All India Milli Council leader Dr Manzoor Alam said. He said Markaz people sought the help of authorities in order to vacate the premises but they did not cooperate.
Even a list of 17 vehicles with registration numbers along with the names of the drivers plus their license details were submitted to the Ld. SDM so that the stranded visitors/guests could be ferried towards their destination but the requisite permission did not get, he added.
Popular Front of India, national chairman OMA Salam said the leveled allegations against Markaz Nizamuddin are unfounded. He alleged that Delhi state government and a section of media are victimizing Tablighi Jamaat to divert the attention from the massive fallouts from the unprepared lockdown.
He noted, “Whatever was intended by the lockdown, the social distancing failed miserably because of the highly unplanned nature it was executed. Instead, it is causing tragedies”.
Front leader also stated that Markaz Nizamuddin had cancelled all their pre-scheduled programmes before the lockdown affected and fully complied official instructions. However the lockdown without a warning or adequate measures to address its aftermath proved tragic to millions of people, he added.
Popular Front urged the media to refrain from demonising Markaz and Tablighi Jamaat for the situation created by the authorities and it also urged the central and state government to take necessary steps to ensure food, accommodation and medical facilities of all the stranded people across the country.
Even in a statement, Tablighi Jamaat defended itself saying the event was cancelled when PM Modi announced the “Janata Curfew” for March 22. Members could not leave, it said, because trains were suddenly stopped. After that, it said, lockdowns ordered first by the Delhi government and then by the PM left the visitors stranded in the Markaz.
It is said 1200 – 1300 people had been stuck at “Markaz Nizamuddin”, because of sudden announcement of national lockdown.