Nizamuddin Markaz case: Was it a conspiracy?

Nizamuddin Markaz

  Even after the Tablighi Jamaat denied accusations that it had broken social distancing laws, saying it was forced to accommodate visitors stranded by the lockdown announced by the government on March 25, with just four hours’ notice, a large section didn’t rule out it as a “deliberate” and “callous” conspiracy to spread coronavirus across the country.

The way entire religious event organised, defying the prohibition order in Delhi, several now are discussing how the Jamaat had made a joke of social-distancing that was being carried out by the rest of the country. Moreover, how people from 16 countries had assembled at the congregation by apparently violating Visa rules. Whether Tablighi Jamaat event was the part of a conspiracy to spread coronavirus in this country with “acute deliberate callousness,” is now a mystery to resolve. The Home Ministry has now decided to blacklist around 800 preachers from Indonesia who took part in the Nizamuddin meeting. To do so, the Ministry has written to all States and Union Territories to “identify, screen and quarantine” foreign members of the organisation

    According to available information, the Tablighi Jamaat, a global evangelical Muslim organisation, conducted a meeting in Malaysia in February this year after the outbreak in China when travel restrictions due to the outbreak of COVID-19 were not in place in India. A reputed US newspaper reported a few days ago that this meeting had become the “largest viral vector in Southeast Asia.” It was said that around 650 people connected to the four-day conclave have tested positive in Malaysia, prompting the country to seal its borders until the end of the month. Most of the 73 coronavirus cases in Brunei, a Muslim country, are tied to the gathering, as are 10 cases in Thailand. At least three coronavirus deaths have been linked to the event,” said the US newspaper.

     Similarly , the same organisation which held a gathering in Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz now sees a number of its members test positive for the viral disease. Preachers and people from Malaysia and Indonesia are said to have been at Nizamuddin for this congregation. This led to the area being sealed by the Delhi authorities. The event in Delhi was from March 10-13, carried out in violation of Prohbitory Orders that were already in place in the national capital banning large gatherings in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. As many as 10 people who took part in the prayer meeting have died from the disease, with Telangana alone identifying six such deaths while Delhi alone, 24 people who were at the event have tested positive.

    Surprisingly, the Jamat people who gathered there even refused to vacate the place despite the requests and warnings from the government authorities, citing their “right to freedom of religious worship.” Moreover, the Maulana Saad, head of Nizamuddin Markaz, refused to yield to pleas from Delhi Police and security agencies to vacate the Banglewali Masjid. As the situation jeopardised, the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval came into the picture and reached the site on March 28-29 night to persuade Maulana Saad to get the occupants to be tested for the COVID-19 infection and be quarantined. While the Markaz allowed 167 Tablighi workers to be hospitalised on March 27, 28 and 29, it was only after the intervention of Doval that the Jamaat leadership yielded to cleaning up of the masjid.

Now a massive search has been launched to track down those who attended the event organised by a Muslim missionary movement after dozens of people tested positive for coronavirus and several deaths. The Delhi police have filed cases, including criminal conspiracy and defying all virus precautions against the organisers. Authorities said that around 3,000 people were found to be staying at Markaz Nizamuddin, the New Delhi headquarters of the group, founded in 1926 and they were now kept in quarantined.

  Most shocking is that Tablighi Jamaat has had a long history of ties with Pak-based banned terror outfits, like Harkat-ul-Mujahideen that has waged a war against India for a long time. The terror group known for the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 in 1999 were members of Tablighi Jamaat, as per Pakistani security analysts and Indian investigators. They even waged a war against the Russia to overthrow the then USSR-allied regime in Afghanistan. As per intelligence estimates, over 6,000 Tablighis were trained in HuM terror camps in Pakistan. Both HuM and its allied organisation, HuJI operated in Kashmir after the defeat of Soviet Union in Afghanistan, killing hundreds of civilians.

     The HuM cadre eventually joined the Jaish-e-Mohammad terror outfit founded by Masood Azhar, who had been released by India in exchange of IC814 passengers. As per intelligent inputs, some of the 9/11 al-Qaeda suspects detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay had stayed in the premises of the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, several years ago. Incidentally, Tablighi Jamaat was also suspected to be involved in the burning of 59 Hindu Kar Sevaks in the 2002 Godhra train torching incident in Gujarat, which led to communal rioting in the state that claimed several lives.

      In view of the situation, the government should investigate that who were responsible for this criminal negligence that jeopardised the country’s fight against coronavirus and dealt them firmly. Presently the whole country is in danger because of this slip-up. Moreover, the government should also inquire about the speech of Jamat chief, who told viewers in a video that instead of avoiding mosques, one should go to mosques. This is highly irresponsible as the “religious sentiments are being exploited to spread superstition, ignorance, and the romance of regression.”