Let our anger against Tablighi not degenerate into anti-Muslim tirade

By Surendra Kumar

Facts speak for themselves. According to some media reports, by early April 30% of those who have tested Covid-19 positive had attended the Tablighi Jamaat’s congregation at its Marqaz in Nizamuddin in Delhi; many of them have died.

The Central Govt., Delhi Govt, the State Govts and concerned agencies had to undertake a herculean task oflocating the participants in different states, identifying them, testing them, putting the positive testing individuals in quarantine and isolating the rest.By the time this process is completed, many of them might have come in contact with many others and possibly infected several of them. In the light of this backdrop, many ordinary citizens all over India get agitated and frustrated when they realise that lives of so many innocent Indians have been put at risk thanks to what happened at the Tablighi Jammat in Nizamuddin. Their anger is understandable so is their desire that the guilty should be brought to book. That’s what happens in most of civilized societies.

How more than 5000 delegates, many of them from over a dozen foreign countries gathered there, who gave them permissions, who authorized necessary visas, why the local police had no inkling of what was going on there, whether the Organizers were guilty of criminal negligence or wilfully flouted the orders of theDelhi Govt of March 13 & 16 which respectively prohibited the gathering of more than 200 & 50 persons, why didn’t the Organizers inform the Police/Delhi admn/Health Ministry, who funded the Conference, were there violations of financial regulations in place etc are matters of detail which must be thoroughly probed. As a matter of fact, for the sake of transparency, neutrality and public confidence, it will be prudent to order a Probe by a retired Judge of a High Court with a mandate to submit the report in two months,and all those found guilty are severely punished.

What happened at the Marqaz was regrettable and unfortunate. It shouldn’t have happened. However, for the acts of omission & commission of the Organisers,should the entire Muslim Community of nearly 180 million be blamed, & stigmatised? Some members of this minority community have even been abused & attacked? How can any hospital refuse admission of a covid-19 patient just because he happens to be a Muslim? Why should any hospital ask for the religion of such a patient? Shouldn’t strict action be taken against any hospital that practices religious discrimination? Following the same criterion,RWAs and shops mustn’t refuse entry to a legitimate person just because he or she happens to be a Muslim. What about the social network? The kind of abusive slurs and vituperative are hurled at the Muslim community is just shocking. This must stop.

Though the number of Indians who indulge in such condemnable acts constitutes just a fraction of 1.3 billion population of India, they must be reprimanded so that others are deterred from emulating them. These hotheads damage considerably PM Modi’s efforts to project a positive image of India all over the world. They must be stopped and not encouraged. We do have a law enforcing System in India; none must take the law in his/her hands. The Rule of Law must prevail; the guilty must be punished following due process of law without and bias or prejudice.Vilification of the Muslim community must stop; it doesn’t behove India which has been proudly extolling her ideals of VasudhaivaKutumbkam and Sarva Dharam Sambhav!

History can’t be rewritten. While we can’t forget certain dark chapters of history, we will be better advised to flag those aspects which are relevant to our present and enrich and strengthen us to address our future more positively and successfully.Notwithstanding some bitter memories of the past, the fact remains that the Muslim community has been for years and continues to be an integral, inseparable and productive part of the beautiful mosaic called India.

In a recent speech, PM Modi exhorted to remember the spirit of 1857.Though brutally crushed by the East India Company, the fact remains, the India’s first war of Independence was led by the aging Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Amir Khusrau, Akbar the Great, Dara Shikoh ,Rahim,Raskhan,Ghalib,GhareebNawaz of Ajmer,Salim Chisti,Nizamuddin Auliya,Maulana Azad,BadshahKhan,Dr Zakir Hussain,Bade Ghlam Ali,UstadAllauddin Khan Ustad Ali Akbar,Ustad Amjad AliKhan,Naushad,Mazrooh,Shakil,Mohd Rafi,Begham Akhtar,Meena Kumari,Nargis,Madhubala,Dilip Kumar ,Kaifi Azmi, Khans: Aamir,Salman,Shahrukh ,Saif,Irfanof Bollywwod,Salim &JavedAkhtar,Shabana Azmi,QuratulAinn Haidar,AR Rehman,Maqbool Fida Husain,Raza,Dr APJ Kalam – all belonging to the same community -are part of the fascinating folklores of our national psyche . How many of us know that Dr Azim Prem ji is India’s biggest philanthropist? Who owns Cipla and several leading pharma companies which produce generic drugs that save millions of lives in India every year? Nawab Pataudi is still remembered and so are cricketing icons such as Azharuddin, Zaheer &Irfan Khan.

Come summer, we rush to buy chikan kurtas. We crave for kebabs that melt in mouth;we rush to Karim in Chandni Chawk or to Moti Mahal for rogan josh.From brass of Moradabad to pearls of Hyderabad to carpets of Kashmir,artisans of this community have done us proud.   Hundreds of them have shed their blood defending India’s borders and served in Civil Services with distinction. When we have the President of the mightiest power on earth, we have no better monument to show him than the unforgettable Taj Mahal!

The misdeeds of Tablighi can’t overshadow the enormous contributions of the Muslim community of India. We have no option but to live in peace & harmony.Let us sing the evergreen Hindi song: Pyar bantate chalo bhor tak

 (Surendra Kumar is a former diplomat and author of many books, including Beyond Diplomatic Dilemmas. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.)

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