Rajat Sharma

Tablighi Jamaat chief must own up responsibility for sending hundreds of people to death

AKB2610Today I begin with a comparison of Coronavirus statistics of India and the US. In a nation of 1.35 billion people, we have a total number of 29,974 cases, about to touch the 30,000 mark. The official death toll in India is 937 and nearly 1600 new cases were added in the last 24 hours with 53 deaths.

In the world’s most powerful country, USA, 1303 people died in the last 24 hours and the total number of cases stood at 10,35,765. One thing is clear. After more than a month of nationwide lockdown, the pandemic is now under control in India.

Questions are being asked why 1,600 new Corona cases have come if the pandemic is under control? Why is the lockdown being extended if things are under control? Let me answer by pointing out towards the critical hot spots in some of the major cities of India. These are, of course, dangerous trends.

First, let’s go to Nagpur. In the Muslim-dominated Satranjipura locality, it was one single man, who before dying, passed on the virus to more than 80 people and put nearly 1,200 people in quarantine. His name is Abdul Latif, age 68, who died of Coronavirus on April 5 in hospital. I had mentioned about him a week ago. He has four daughters and a son, a family of more than 20 members. Out of them, 18 have been found positive.

The son got the virus first, he passed it on to his wife, the virus caught up with the wife’s brother and sister-in-law. Three daughters of Abdul Latif got the virus, the second daughter passed it on to her husband, and their children also got infected. The virus then infected the third daughter and her two children. Abdul Latif’s brother-in-law and a friend also got the virus. The chain reactions ultimately caught up with all the family members and close friends. Despite knowing that Abdul Latif had been found Corona positive, all these people came in contact with him disregarding distancing norms.

The entire Satranjipura locality had to be declared as a hot spot, and buses were brought to ferry the family members and other contacts to quarantine centers, under guard of State Reserve Police. The whole locality is now mostly empty.

Abdul Latif had no travel history. He was a TB patient, and got the Coronavirus from a friend of his son-in-law, who had a travel history. Abdul Latif was found Corona positive only after his death. The local authorities had appealed to all people who had come in contact with him to opt for quarantine, but very few people responded and chose to conceal their contact history. The result is there for all to see.

Out of nearly 30,000 Corona cases presently in India, nearly two-third (roughly 20,000) cases are from five states, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh. Most of these cases could have been avoided, if the Tablighi Jamaat workers had not worked as super spreaders of the virus.

Take the case of Pune. Neraly 180 Jamaat workers attended the Markaz gathering in Delhi. Out of them, 36 workers were from Bhawani Peth locality, known as Pune’s Dharavi with a population of more than three lakhs.

In Bhawani Peth slum area, there are 8 feet by 10 feet jhuggis, each housing four to five and even up to ten people. Scores of people use a common toilet. The first case was detected here on April 4, and in the next 24 days, the number jumped to more than 250.

The first patient was a member of Tablighi Jamaat. Local officials say, most of the Jamaat members were vegetable, fruit or milk vendors. They came in contact with many people and spread the virus. When the Jamaat controversy began, police had appealed to Jamaat members to come forward, but nearly five of them escaped and hid with friends and relatives. By the time most of the Jamaat members were isolated, the pandemic had spread across Bhawani Peth locality, which had to be declared a hot spot.

Ahmedabad is another crucial ‘red zone’. Nearly 75 per cent of Corona patients in the city are those who came in contact with Tablighi Jamaat workers. There are more than 2,500 Corona patients in Ahmedabad presently. The first case was detected on March 20, it rose to 34 in 12 days, and now the figure is in four digits. The same is the case with Kanpur, another ‘red zone’ where Jamaat members spread the virus to their friends, contacts and even in madrasas.

Whenever I speak of Tablighi Jamaat, there are some people who raise objections. They usually ask, why I am naming the outfit. My question is: why should we refrain from naming Tablighi Jamaat? It is because of its gathering at Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz that the virus spread across many states of India. How can we conceal this fact?

Is it not a fact that nearly 40,000 people had to undergo quarantine because of the Jamaat? Was it not a fact that many of these Jamaat workers were detected hiding inside mosques in different states?

Is it not a fact that many of the policemen, health workers and other social activists who had gone there to round up the Jamaat members, were themselves infected with the virus?

The senior Congress leader from Ahmedabad, Badruddin Sheikh, had himself gone to the mosques to trace Jamaat members, and in the process, he got the virus and finally died in hospital.

Another Congress leader Imran Khedawala had to be hospitalized because he got the virus after he went to mosques in search of Jamaat members. It was after meeting Imran Khedawala that the Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and deputy chief minister Nitin Patel had to opt for home quarantine.

My question is: Should the Tablighi Jamaat not take the responsibility for spreading Coronavirus to these two senior Congress leaders of Gujarat?

Should the Jamaat chief Maulana Saad not take the responsibility for misguiding his followers at the Markaz gathering for boasting that Muslims will never get infected by the virus and that the mosque is the best place to die, if at all somebody is infected. Maulana Saad is still in hiding. He must come out and own up the blunders that he committed by sending hundreds of people to death that could have been avoided.

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