New Delhi, April 16: In a joint letter to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Delhi Minority Comission (DMC) Chairman Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan and Member Kartar Singh Kochhar said that there was no conspiracy on part of the people stranded in the Tablighi Markaz or its leadership. They were innocent victims of this unseen epidemic like anyone else on this planet. They added that one section of the Tablighi Markaz leadership was insensitive and it failed to anticipate and realise the impending danger or its scale and hence continued its programmes as per schedule. The other section of Tablighi Jamaat based in Turkman Gate had cancelled all its programmes since early March 2020. The Nizamuddin Tabligh leadership was not alone in this. There are dozens of instances in Delhi and across the country where political leaders and ordinary people showed carelessness and insensitivity even after the announcement of the lockdown.
The letter further said that it was correct to evacuate the people stranded at the Tablighi Markaz and take them to medical facilities and quarantine centres. It was also a correct and a required step to order and search for people who came in contact with these stranded people from any part of the country. But this correct campaign took two wrong directions due to insensitive briefing by government officials and sensational media coverage: (a) Every “Tablighi person” anywhere in the country became a suspect and was hunted down and placed under quarantine amid propaganda that they were “hiding” and “evading”. Mere past relationship of someone with Tablighi Jamaat does not make him per se a suspect. Instead, only those who were inside the Tablighi Markaz or visited it or came in contact with such persons outside the Markaz after the epidemic was discovered should be searched and quarantined. People of the Tablighi Jamaat who were not in the Tablighi Markaz, did not visit it during the said period and did not come in contact with any such person, must not be treated as suspects because coronavirus is not Tabligh-specific. But this exactly is happening in many places in the country where Tablighi people are being hunted only because they belong to the Tablighi Jamaat with no proof that they were in the Markaz at the said time or came in contact with anyone who was there at the time. We think call detail records (CDR) of anyone should be sufficient to prove his location at the given time or if he came in physical contact with someone who is a suspect.
The DMC letter further said that this has created a totally unnecessary scene across the country as unrelated Tablighi people are being hunted down and quarantined amid unnecessary propaganda and harassment, so much so that an innocent Tablighi person in Himachal Pradesh, who tested negative, committed suicide due to mocking and harassment; another in a Delhi village was lynched because he attended a Tablighi event in the far away Bhopal; a group is quarantined at present in a school in village Taruwala, tehsil Paonta Saheb, Himachal Pradesh, although the group was in Himachal Pradesh since 25 February 2020.
DMC requested the Home Minister to issue instructions to the police and health officers not to harass Tablighi people who were not in the Markaz at the given time or had no contact with those who were stranded there when lockdown was declared.
The DMC letter further said that due to the reckless briefing by government officials and sensational media coverage, general public has come to equate Tablighi people with ordinary Muslims, which is not correct. While every Tablighi is a Muslim, not every Muslim is a Tablighi. This has caused harassment of Muslims in both urban and rural areas across the country. A clear instruction may be issued to all concerned to avoid usage of vague words and descriptions about Tablighi Jamaat which has put millions of Indian Muslims to inconvenience.
DMC has sent copies of this letter to the chief ministers of all Indian states because the harassment of Muslims in the name of Tablighi Jamaat is taking place all over the country.