When the whole world is united, we Indians are divided. The virus does not discriminate based on religion but we do. Our ability to infiltrate religion in almost any context, use it to draw lines and to shift the focus from real issues is what we are seeing today. Nobody wants to raise the real issues, and those who do are answered with ‘Laathi-charge’, ‘imprisonment’ and ‘guns’.
To understand what happened in Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin, we need to focus on the some important facts and highlights first.
Tablighi Jamaat is an Islamic Missionary movement set up in 1926. The Delhi Headquarters of the Jamaat is situated in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area. Thousands visit the center every year. The congregation- part of the 20th-century Islamic movement began at end of February to early March. The Gathering which featured sermons was attended by members from Malaysia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, and Saudi Arabia. There were also members from England, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Fiji, France, China, and Kuwait.
Here’s how the congregation didn’t defy government lockdown orders:
March 13: 3400 people gather at the Nizamuddin Markaz as part of a religious gathering.
March 20: 10 Indonesians who attended the gathering in Delhi test positive in Telangana.
March 22: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Janta Curfew is observed across the nation. No public gatherings were allowed for a day. However, Before Janta Curfew could be lifted at 9 PM; Delhi’s CM imposed a curfew till 31, further dismissing their chances to avail road transport for evacuation.
March 23: Even during these challenging times, Markaz authorities on 23rd March managed to send 1,500 visitors by whatever meager transports were available.
March 24: PM Modi announces a nationwide lockdown for 21 days. No public gatherings, any kind of non-essential movement outside residences allowed. Only essential services allowed remaining functional.
March 24: Nizamuddin Police asks remaining people at the Markaz to vacate the area to which authorities replied that closure of Markaz is already underway.
March 25: Around 1000 people are still residing in the area Stranded due to nationwide lockdown orders. A medical team visits the Markaz and suspected cases are isolated in a hall within the building. Jamaat officials go to the SDM’s office. Apply for permission to vacate. Vehicles list was also given to seek passes.
March 26: An Indian preacher who attended the gathering in Delhi is tested positive and dies in Srinagar.
March 28: World Health Organization (WHO) teams along with the SDM visit the Markaz. 33 people who were taken for medical checkups are isolated at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital in Delhi.
March 28: ACP, Lajpat Nagar, sends a notice to the Markaz to vacate immediately.
March 29: Markaz officials respond to the ACP’s letter saying no new people were allowed to gather post the nationwide lockdown announcement. The current gathering had started much before the lockdown and that the PM in his lockdown speech said: “jo jahaan hai, vahin rahe” (stay put wherever you are).
29 March night: Police and health authorities start taking out people from the Markaz and send them to hospitals and quarantine facilities.
March 30: A total of 1,548 people have been bought out of Markaz and 441 were symptomatic. 1,107 people with no symptoms were sent to the quarantine facility in different parts of the city.
The area is under strict lockdown after 24 people have been tested positive of The COVID 19.
From the above chain of events, it’s crystal clear that Jamaat didn’t defy any government’s orders. In a Press Release, the Mosque administration said it had tried to comply with them but large groups were stuck at the Markaz as the Government suspended all passenger trains till March 31.
According to officials, patient zero of Nizamuddin fallout was an Indonesian Preacher.
In Statement Markaz said “never violated any provision of law, and always tried to act with compassion and reason towards the visitors who came to Delhi form different states. It did not let them violate any medical guidelines by thronging bus stops or roaming on the streets.
All the events at Markaz are planned a year in advance to facilitate the visitors from far off places. It canceled all its ongoing programs when PM Modi declared Janta Curfew. On the day of Curfew, it strictly followed it. No one ventured out till 9 PM as desired by PM.
But Delhi’s CM, Arvind Kejriwal, fell to the rumors spread by right-wing propaganda ecosystem that alleged people with COVID 19 are inside Markaz. Kejriwal, a mute spectator, who miserably failed to stop a communal riot in national capital giving the excuse that The Delhi Police doesn’t fall under him, immediately ordered an FIR.
If Only he would have looked first into the entire issue from a partial perspective, he would have found that since day one Markaz was cooperating with authorities to disperse remaining visitors.
Mr. Kejriwal spotlights the empty Vatican, Mecca to urge against religious gathering but doesn’t answer what they did for stranded national and international delegates. Because they did nothing, Buses were not provided to them, trains, and Public Transport were closed. They didn’t provide any means of through which they can evacuate.
Kejriwal rules out that Delhi has not entered the feared third stage of Community Transmission yet including those at Markaz.
Health officials of the Delhi Government said containment of the virus is need of the hour, not fault-finding.
While Pointing that Mecca is empty, Mr. Kejriwal forgot to mention that the Saudi Government didn’t abandon its people on streets. There was no mockery of lockdown with millions stranded on state borders across the country.
Markaz however, humbly offered the entire premises to Health authorities as Quarantine facility to help the government in curbing the spread.
It is sheer negligence of the Centre, it claims that it started screening individuals at airports since 15 January, in which they failed, otherwise there would have been no single case of coronavirus in the country. Similarly, instead of dealing with the entire issue as a health emergency, Kejriwal is trying to point fingers.
The Indian media stooped to a new low while covering the entire episode. Some of the headlines of primetime debates were as follows- “Deoband mein 500 corona bomb” (Five hundred corona bomb in Deoband- a Muslim dominated district in UP), “Delhi ke Nizamuddin me 200 corona sandighd” (200 corona suspect in Delhi’s Nizamuddin), a right-wing propaganda channel even termed the debate as “Corona Jihad”.
There is only one particular explanation to all this hatred, Islamophobia. the ladder on which right-wing forces took to the power. Islamophobia is exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life. Constant vilification of a particular community for political gain can be seen all across the globe.
The vilification of the Muslims community in India is at a very dangerous level. It must be stopped to protect the idea of India. The young educated Muslims are ready and willing to fight for their rights. They will no longer accept to be killed just because their name is Aqhlaq or Pehlu Khan.
In their attempt to create a narrative, media houses ignored the fact that health Ministry didn’t declare Coronavirus a health emergency till 13th March. Siddhi Vinayak Mandir was not closed till 16 March, Sai Baba Mandir opens for worshipper till 17th and Kashi Vishvanath Mandir open for devotees till March 20th but islamophobia Indian media didn’t utter a single word.
Ailing Healthcare Sector
According to a study, some 2.4 million Indians die due to treatable conditions every year. The Indian healthcare system is in a deeply worrying state. Lack of Hospitals, missing doctors, ill-equipped health professionals and lack of funds these are the characteristic health sector. The cloak of superpower is shredded to pieces at the Human Development index. World sixth-largest economy spends meager 1.5% of its GDP on Healthcare system reducing per health expenditure to less than $15.
The most disheartening thing is that it’s not even on the national agenda. Only after pandemic approached, we started raising the question, about lack of ventilators in hospitals, single doctor for thousands of patients, lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers but as soon as these voices reached the government, a controversy was created to divert the focus.
If even a pandemic cannot bring us back to our senses than we are destined to doom.