Home National News The Tablighi Jamaat fiasco: What really happened

The Tablighi Jamaat fiasco: What really happened

Delhi court freed 121 people from Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh after charging a fine of Rs. 5000 each for being a part of the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco. But what really happened and how the matter unfolded in the aftermath of the covid-19 spread...

On 20th July Delhi Court freed 121 people from Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh after charging a fine of Rs. 5000 each for being a part of the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco. The decision was announced after each accused accepted charges under the plea bargain process, concerning infringement of visa norms and other COVID guidelines while participating in the Talibghi Jamaat during the lockdown.

“Jitendra Pratap Singh, the Metropolitan Magistrate freed 79 Bangladeshi nationals after charging a fine of Rs 5,000 each”, commented Ashima Mandla, the advocate appearing for them. “Metropolitan Magistrate Rohit Gullia sanctioned the release of 42 Kyrgyzstan nationals on payment of a fine of a similar amount”, said Advocate Fahim Khan who also appeared for them.

Their release was granted by the court after the complainant in the case: Sub-divisional magistrate of Defence Colony, Assistant Commissioner of Police of Lajpat Nagar, and Inspector of Nizamuddin clarified they have no remonstrance concerning the decision.

Refusal to plea

Eight nationals from Kyrgyzstan and three from Bangladesh, however, refused to plead guilty to the charges and requested a trial. The court was hearing their plea bargain applications.

Under plea bargaining the accused foreigners plead guilty to the charges against them, praying for a lesser punishment. Plea Bargaining is allowed under the “Code of Criminal Procedure” (Chapter XXI A) in cases where the 1) maximum duration of imprisonment exceeds seven years 2) the offence does not render any repercussions on the socio-economic scenario 3) when the offence is not committed against women or a child below 14 years of age.

Charge sheets had been filed against foreigners for participating in the congregation at Nizamuddin Market in New Delhi amidst lockdown restrictions, violating visa norms and engaging in illegal missionary activities. The above-mentioned actions were all in blatant violation of the guidelines issued by the government in light of the COVID 19 outbreak in India. The foreigners were granted bail by an earlier Court order on a personal bond of Rs 1000 each.

The Tablighi Jamaat: India’s worst coronavirus vector?

India was progressing by leaps and bounds in the battle against the outbreak of COVID-19 until the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco in Nizamuddin, New Delhi came to light.

The Tablighi event was a three-days live-in affair in a single building for thousands of attendees that included hundreds of foreigners. Some of these foreigners flouted visa norms since their tourist visas did not permit them to engage in such activities. Reportedly, some were even overstaying their visa periods. The place had neither the infrastructure nor amenities for such a huge gathering.

The callous and uncooperative behaviour of some of these participants, who have since been quarantined or taken to hospitals, is another pointer of their disregard towards the spread of the virus. Their hostility towards medical staff and aversion to testing or treatment defies all logic. The event set a chain reaction for the spread of Coronavirus infection in most parts of the country that resulted in a steep rise in the number of cases. Today, 25% per cent of the total cases and 33% of the fatalities are attributed to the spread of the virus by the participants of the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco.

The alibi

Sympathisers and defenders of Tablighi event have cited half a dozen other instances where people in the country had gathered despite restrictions in force and put forward the question as to why no formal complaints have been registered against them. For the record, most of these gatherings were smaller in numbers not exceeding a few hundred barring the wedding function attended by Karnataka Chief Minister on 15th March and the celebrations in Bhopal after Mr Shiv Raj Singh was sworn in as Chief Minister. All of them were local events that may have lasted for a maximum of a few hours at best. Still in all fairness, they too were wrong and therefore guilty of breaking the rules and censure is in order.

Also read : Coming soon: Maha Kumbh amid pandemic, ghat artwork & pollution measures

However, it may be prudent to understand that ‘not all mistakes are created equal’. Their results too are not created equal. Therefore, the reaction and punishment for all mistakes too cannot be created equal. This is a universal truth and not debatable. The Tablighi Jamaat fiasco, unfortunately, was a catastrophic event but it is improper in principle to cast aspersions on the whole 180 million-strong Muslim communities for this incident.

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