Rajat Sharma

Tracing underground Jamaat members has become a huge challenge

AKB2610People of india have supported prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to extend the lock down till May 3rd. He made it very clear that this time police will be tough with those who violate the lockdown. It was much needed. I will explain why. The number of Coronavirus cases in India has crossed the 10,000 mark. There are clear indications that the worst is yet to come. The effect of the scourge could have been less were it not for the Tablighi Jamaat gathering at Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz, from where Jamaat workers fanned out to the length and breadth of India, spreading the virus.

Figures show that more than 30 per cent of Corona cases in Uttar Pradesh are related to Jamaat. If you add the number of those who came in contact with them, the percentage comes to more than 55. In Maharashtra too, most of the cases relate to Jamaat. The first death in Dharavi slum was of a person who came in contact with a Tablighi Jamaat worker. Similar reports have come from Indore, Tamilnadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In Delhi 356 corona positive cases were reported in last 24 hours, out of which 325 were related to Tablighi Jamaat.

According to Delhi Police Crime Branch, nearly 6,000 Tablighi Jamaat workers are missing and are yet to be traced. Many of them could be potential carriers of the dreaded virus. Crime Branch officials say, from March 13 to 15, nearly 9,000 people assembled at the Markaz gathering. Since March 28, 3,193 Jamaat workers have been accounted for and the rest are missing.

In Delhi alone, police nabbed nearly 900 workers from mosques and other places. Police officials say, underground workers of the Jamaat may now be hiding with families, and it will be a very difficult task to trace them, as they have switched off their cellphones.

Facts show that out of 3,193 Jamaat workers traced so far, 765 have been found positive and the remaining have been kept at quarantine centres. Out of the 185 Jamaat workers caught hiding in 13 mosques in Delhi’s Chandni Mahal, 52 were found positive. 26 Jamaat workers, mostly from Bengal, Assam and Bangladesh, were found from two mosques in Jahangirpuri. Imagine the number of people they must have come in contact with.
In UP, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government has started sending Jamaat workers, who have recovered from virus, to jail. In Bahraich, 17 foreign Jamaat workers from Indonesia and Thailand were sent to jail after completing 14-day isolation period for flouting visa norms, while four Indian Jamaat workers who were with them, have been released on bail after their isolation period was over.

At a time when the state governments are faced with a huge challenge in tracing the missing Jamaat workers, a petition was filed in Supreme Court on Monday by Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind alleging that the print and electronic media was “communalizing” the issue by reporting that the Tablighi Jamaat had a big hand in the spurt in Coronavirus cases. It was alleged in the petition that by naming the Tablighi Jamaat, the entire Muslim community was being defamed.

The Jamiat sought restrictions to be imposed on reporting by the media, but the three judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India declined to pass any interim order saying that “we will not gag the media”. The apex court advised Jamiat to make the Press Council of India a party to this litigation, so that a detailed order could be given at a later stage.

The Supreme Court has taken a correct decision and the Jamiat cannot question it. Instead of pointing finger at the media, it would be advisable if the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind advises the Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad to give a call to his workers to come out from hiding and offer themselves for Coronavirus tests. This will be in the interest of the Jamaat workers, the Muslim comunity and the nation as a whole.

The Jamiat Ulema leaders must know that if the Jamaat workers do not come out from hiding, and are arrested later, police will first get the Coronavirus tests done, send them for treatment if required, and after they recover, they may be sent to jail. There is still time for them to come overground, report themselves to the police and cooperate.

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