WHAT WAS THE TABLIGHI JAMAAT EVENT?
- The Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation took place in Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque in early March of 2020. The headquarters of Jamaat is known as Markaz.
- On any given day, the religious activities take place in full swing, but on March 22, authorities shut its doors - with about 2,500 worshippers still inside - after it emerged that a religious gathering organized by the group on March 13-15th, caused the biggest coronavirus spike in India.
- It is believed that in the early weeks of the lockdown when the whole country was battling to limit their interaction and the number of covid-19 infections were very less, it was the members of this Tablighi Jamaat who travelled across the nation and carried infections with them.
THE AFTERMATH OF THE MARKAZ EVENT:
- While accusing the Jamaat leadership of "carelessness" during a global pandemic, experts and civil society members also blamed the central government for its delayed response and allowing foreigners, particularly those coming from COVID-19 hotspot nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia, into India.
- According to Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, Tablighi Jamaat spokesperson, “There was no screening even when there were reports that some people with a history of travel to the Markaz had tested positive.”
- It is stated that authorities only started screening people staying at the Markaz from March 26, which was a day or two after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a nationwide lockdown to control the pandemic.
LEGAL ACTIONS AGAINST THE ATTENDEES:
- The Union Home Ministry instructed states governments across India to track the members who were a part of the congregation, asking them to test them, quarantine and deport such individuals.
- Once the nationals were identified, some 960 foreigners who took part in the event were blacklisted their visas for violation of The Foreigners Act, 1946. They violated visa norms by entering India with a tourist visa and indulging illegally in missionary work.
- The Delhi government ordered an FIR against Muhammad Saad Kandhlawi, the head of Nizamuddin faction of the Tablighi Jamat, on 30 March. But the leader, along with associates had gone missing.
- Kandhlawi, later, released an audio message on YouTube from his hiding, saying, "I am in self-quarantine in Delhi as advised by the doctors and appeal to all Jamaat wherever they are in the country to follow the directives of the law." On 16 April, Kandhlawi was charged with manslaughter over the gathering. An investigation was initiated by the Delhi police into this.
- According to reports, around 160 attendees who were quarantined at a railway facility in Delhi "misbehaved" and "spat on" doctors and healthcare personnel who were attending to them. They also allegedly raised objection to the food served and roamed around the facility in violation of the norms of the isolation ward.
- Several attendees have been arrested. It is reported that as of 8 May, 3,013 members of the Tablighi Jamaat were still waiting for their release, despite being under the long quarantine period and testing negative.
- A PIL was filed in the Delhi High Court which sought for immediate release of Tablighi Jamaat members, who ha d been put in quarantine centers for almost five weeks. But the petition was later withdrawn by the petitioner, as the Delhi government had already directed for the release of the attendees.
- Around 4th June, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced that it has blacklisted 2,550 foreign Tablighi Jamaat activists who were staying in India during the Covid-19 lockdown and participating in religious activities in violation of visa norms. Hailing from nearly 40 countries, the Jamaatis have been barred from entering India for 10 years.
- MHA officials reported that Over 2,300 Jamaatis, including 250 foreigners, were found to be living at the sect’s headquarters in Delhi’s Nizamuddin soon after the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 25. Several of them had tested positive for Covid. It was also stated that almost all the Tablighi activists came to India on tourist visabut engaged in religious activities and violated the visa norms.
- On 5th June, the central government filed its affidavit before the Apex Court, stating that there is no need for a CBI investigation in this case. It was also stated that the probe into the matter was being covered on day-to-day basis in accordance with the law and all efforts are being made to submit a report in a timebound manner.
What is your opinion in the present case?
Shall strict action be taken against the attendees or are the present measure that are being taken enough?
Let us know your opinions!