Witch-hunt of Tablighi Jamaat a distraction from State’s incompetence


The cases of coronavirus are rising in India by the hour where law enforcement agencies are trying their best to contain its spread. The number of cases has crossed the mark of 2500 while almost 50 people have currently lost their lives to the viral disease.

Experts are claiming that the low number of cases is the result of low number of testing done by the Indian health officials due to inadequate number of testing kits. India has done not more than 30,000 tests so far as per the report of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). In a nation of 1.3 billion, such a number is worrying and it should be paid attention to by the State officials.

This is a fact that India is facing a shortage of testing kits and that is why it is testing only those who either have a travel history or a contact history to someone who has travelled abroad. This approach is not effective because it fails to take into account the transmission amongst individuals without any travel or contact history. Though the exponential growth of the positive cases and death is a proof that community transmission has very well begun. The government, however, is in denial and is failing to acknowledge the same so as to hide its incompetence.

India needs to take a lesson from South Korea where instead of ordering new Personal Protective Equipment for every doctor or ordering new testing kits for every patient, they have installed testing booths much like the drive-through food outlets. They are quick and efficient in a way that there is no physical contact between the patient and the doctor and there is no need to replace the whole Personal Protective Equipment after every patient, only the gloves are replaced every time. With a huge population like India, no amount of Protective Equipment or Testing Equipments is going to be enough, therefore, Indian government needs to focus on such innovative solutions so as to minimize the damage to life and property.

In order to divert the attention from these basic relevant questions, the State officials have started harassing civilians in an obscene display of police brutality. There are reports of individuals out to buy groceries and essentials and getting beaten up black and blue by the law enforcement agencies.

Moreover, Nizamuddin Markaz which holds a gathering of thousands every year became a hotspot of new cases because of unplanned and sudden lockdown by the government. The Nizamuddin Markaz held a congregation on 13 March, at a time when government of India had neither called this pandemic a health emergency nor had it announced any lockdown, therefore the gathering was not illegal per se.

Moreover, as PM Modi announced a lockdown, the gathering of thousands got stuck inside the building as the buses, railways and flights were discontinued overnight. The Nizamuddin Markaz representative did inform police and State officials that more than 1,000 people have been stuck inside the Markaz premises. No action was taken to either evacuate or quarantine those stuck inside. This was another failure of the State officials.

Moreover, after a week of the national lockdown, when positive cases from all over India started getting traced back to the Nizamuddin Markaz congregation of 13th March, then began the witch-hunt of anyone and everyone associated with the Tablighi Jamaat. And not only that, this incident was used to give a communal tinge to the pandemic as well by the mainstream media.

Media channels started using terms like Corona Jihad to peddle the narrative that only one community is responsible for spreading virus in the country but the truth is that this witch hunt is nothing but a distraction from the State incompetence.


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