Muslim vilification and Tabligi Jamat’s coronavirus spread size  

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy made a written statement in the Rajya Sabha on September 21, 2020 that the Tabligi Jamat’s congregation in March was the reason for Coronavirus spread to “many persons” in the country.

The Minister deliberately chose not reveal the exact numbers of the Corona cases linked to Tabligi Jamat headquarter or ‘Markaz.’ This was because the miniscule figure of less than 5000 may have negative impact when the spread of Coronavirus is reaching astronomical heights.

The revelation of such a low figure may be doubted but if true could have shamed the government that had supervised over the anti – Jamat, anti-Muslim hate campaign built in wake of the pandemic outbreak in India.

Since the Union Minister has deliberately chosen to be silent on the exact number of corona cases, it generates huge curiosity as to what could be the exact figure of the virus spread directly linked to the Jamat’s headquarter in Delhi?

It is with this intention an exercise in mental jugglery is being done here to find out the exact number of the virus spread that has origins with the Tabligi Jamat’s event in Delhi.

There are some clues that come from the ministry of health and family welfare attributed to the Health Secretary, Lav Agarwal, who then told a press conference, that approximately 30% of the 14,378 cases of Covid-19 cases reported in April were related to a single source that is Tabligi Jamat, Markaz in Delhi.

The numerical deduction of 30% of the 14,378 gives us the figures of 4,291 that can be linked to the Jamat headquarter. However, when this figure is further annualized then there is lack of clarity, as to how many people were full blown up cases, mild cases or were asymptotic. So the exact figure of the Covid cases linked to ‘Markaz’ from the figure of 4,291 cannot be deduced.

So we have to take another route to arrive at a figure that can give us some answer to the exact number of the virus spread out from the Jamat Markaz.

And this time from the statement made by the Minister G Kishan Reddy in the Rajya Sabha that 2,361 Tabligi Jamat members were evacuated from the ‘Marak’ on March 29, 2020.

This figure of 2, 361 Jamat members tell us they were evacuated from the Markaz but that no way say how many of them were Corona positive. But from these figures it can be deduced that these 2,361 people were not the super spreader of the virus in any way, and were quarantined or treated for the same.

So again we are stuck to the fundamental question as to how many people were linked to Jamat Markaz that may have passed the virus to others and that also has resulted into how many positive cases.

In the absence of official figures, it would be obvious to pick up figures from Tabligi Jamat sources that say some 1500 members had left the Markaz before March 21, 2020 to different places in India after attending the congregation.

In such a case the 1500 people that can actually be tagged as super spreaders of Coronavirus in the country. This is because these were the people who had left the complex after attending the event and gone to different parts of the country. They were also supposedly the ones said to have taken the infection with them, thus transmitting it to others.

However, among them also how many of them were Covid positive symptoms remains unknown. It’s obvious that only those with positive symptoms can be called a spreader of Coronavirus in India.

This means that there must be less than 1500 people who can be called super spreaders of the virus. But again what could be the real figure? In the absence of any reliable statistics, we can apply thumb rules to get nearer to the truth.  So if we apply the rule of half, then we arrive at the figure of 750 people who can be assumed to have positive symptoms and were the spreader of the virus.

Again what could be the actual to whom they passed the virus? Assuming that these 750 people may have contacted a maximum of 5 persons each, then we can reach the figure of 3,750 and assume that only these many cases are linked to the single source.

However for those who remain unconvinced, if we can extend the rope and stretch it further we can go up to 5000 cases and not beyond, that can be linked to Tabligi Jamat event in Delhi.

So if that is the case, then the deputy Union Home Minister’s statement in Rajya Sabha was misleading. He deliberately evaded the fundamental question about the number of Corona cases that could be linked to Tabligi Jamat Markaz. The Minister’s remark that “many persons” were affected by Tabligi event was just to endorse the dominant narrative that surrounds this episode. His answer certainly lacks the credibility that’s expected from a Union Minister.

In such context it would be apt to revisit the March timeline of the event organized at the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz in New Delhi.  It’s necessary to state here that such programmes were organized round the year at the Markaz and a time table and a calendar are prepared well in advance.

In such programmes, Jamat members from the country and from abroad come to take part at the Markaz in Delhi. They after attending the programme, normally travel to different parts of the country in batches. They spend about 40 days in their spiritual journey at different places and engage in prayers for the purification of their body and soul from any worldly temptations.

This year also the Tabligi Jamat Markaz, as its routine activity had organized many events in March and their events went on till 21th March, when curfew was imposed first in Delhi and then in the country due to nationwide lock down announced on midnight March 24. Thereafter, everything came to a standstill in the country and some 2361 Tabligi Jamat members were stranded in the Markaz premises and were later evacuated on March 29.

The Union Minister G Kishan Reddy has a different take on this. He told the Rajya Sabha; “As reported by Delhi Police, despite guidelines and orders issued by various authorities in pursuance of the outbreak of COVID-19, a huge gathering assembled inside closed premises over a protracted period of time and without any semblance of social distancing or provision of masks and sanitizers. This also caused the spread of Coronavirus infection amongst many persons.”

The blame game as to who is responsible for creating a hotspot of coronavirus, the government or the Markaz can only be settled through the courts but the fact remains that it was the government that allowed the foreign Tabligi Jamat members arriving at the airport to go to the Markaz. There was no mandatory health checkup at the airport and authorities there continued to do so till mid-March, when the government blew the Corona beguile that the novel virus had arrived in the country.

Secondly, the central government knew about the presence of Coronavirus at Markaz, as early as March 18, when it found a few cases in Tamil Nadu and Telengana that originated from Markaz in Delhi. If that is the case then why did the government not swing into action at once and preempted the events that happened later.

It is for sure the members stuck at the Markaz were unaware of the presence of Corona virus amidst them. It was only when symptomatic Corona cases started becoming visible then health works were pressed into service but were allowed to stay on till the midnight of March 28 when they were finally evacuated.

This discussion assumes significance because now the timeline has changed from March to September. The Covid 19 cases are scaling new heights and death toll too is making new records but still the spread of Coronavirus is attributed to Jamat Markaz has not been given a decent burial. Both the government and the Markaz are locking horns in the court with claims and counterclaims on the responsibility of the spread of the virus.

This discussion further assumes significance because from the third week of March media trial started vilifying the Tablighi Jamat member’s presence at the Markaz and the Muslim community holding them responsible for the spread of Corona virus.

The anti Tabligi Jamat anti-Muslim rant continued in the media all through the April that was full of canard and hate against Muslim minority. All and sundry were seen on the TV Channels debating corona virus spread with Tabligi Markaz and in the process were doing Muslim bashing and holding them responsible for the spread of the novel virus.

Corona Jihadi was word invented for the Tabligi Jamat members by the media made and the entire Muslim community was responsible for the virus spread in the country. The inflaming hate campaign against the Muslims built through the media trial generated genocidal tendencies and an atmosphere of communal disharmony was created where Muslims became susceptible to be ethnically cleansed in the country for the spread of Coronavirus.

Actually, the media trial against the Muslims for the spread of Covid cut  open the underbelly of India from where hatemongers oozed out, bashing the Muslims, calling them Corona Jihadis.

This media trial had a repercussion on the ground situation, when some innocent Muslim vegetable and fruit venders were beaten up and humiliated. They were confronted with slurs and intimidation even with physical violence and cases of lynching for being the spreader of the unseen virus.

This discussion also assumes significance as it may also put the elected representative in dock because all these developments took place under the watchful eyes of the government of the day. Behind the Corona-Jamat linkages is the labyrinth that unmasked the forces behind the anti-Muslim campaign. It also reveals how the media is egged to create Islamofobia and communal disharmony in the society. I also unmask the government’s intentions towards the Muslims community.

Here it would be pertinent to quote the Aurangabad bench of Mumbai High Court judgment that explicitly said that Tablighi Jamaat episode is a government vendetta against the Muslims for their involvement in protests against Citizen Amendment Act and National Citizen Register, earlier in the year.

The treatment meted out to the Tabligi Jamat members by the government was to warn the community that if they ever protested again even peacefully, they would face the same wrath, as the Tabligi Jamat members were facing now.

In other words Article 19(1) (a & b) of the constitution has no meaning left under the current government. All these things are Post Truth India – A Brand New Republic.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at


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