Defending the Indefensible: A Response to Dr. Farooqi’s Rejoinder

Tablighi Jamaat
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Dr. Irfanullah Farooqi has raised several issues against what I said in my article entitled “Should one defend Tablighi Jamaat?”, through a rejoinder titled “Tablighi Jamaat and the Perils of Precipitous Criticality: A response to Prof. Rohit Dhankar”.I am thankful to Dr. Farooqi for noticing this article and subjecting it to proper standards of “academic integrity”, in his own word. This short article was written as a comment in the course of ongoing debate in the country on Nizamuddin Markaz issue. Since the article was originally a blog post I may have been rather careless on strict academic parameters of referencing etc., and assumed some information already available to my readers or being clear in the context. Also, sorry to confess this but, I don’t even know what strict academic parameters are. However, my writing is guided by common sense and reason to communicate with people. Any one writing publicly should take full responsibility for facts, reasoning and conclusion drawn, be that academically rigorous or not. Veracity of the facts and premises, and validity of reasoning should be the main concern. Generally speaking, arguments and conclusion which pass these two tests are considered sound. The following response to Dr. Farooqi’s rejoinder is written keeping these parameters in mind. 

Dr. Farooqi has organised his rejoinder under three major sub-heads, I will respond to charges made under them one by one. 

Critical Review of arguments or flogging the same dead horses again and again

Dr. Farooqi is making a strenuous effort to resuscitate the already demolished arguments in this section. It is somewhat waste of time to deliberate on them again, but since Dr. Farooqi is not alone who is still using all or some of these arguments, it may still merit some consideration. Therefore, I request the indulgence of readers on this part of my response.

On the argument of “holding the central government accountable” he accepts my contention that “we cannot overlook the Tablighis’ moral responsibility”. But has an objection to the “ease” with which, according to him, I am using the term “crime”; which he wants to consider later. So, shall we in this response. 

In his analysis of the second argument about “the negligence on the part of the Delhi Police” Dr. Farooqi says very little regarding responsibility of the Jamaat, he mainly uses this argument to accuse me of naivety, lack of objectivity and irresponsibility. The basis of these intellectual and moral strictures against me is given as (a) the video cited by me, (b) cherry picking (not his words) from the video and (c) my remark that the police “should not have been scared of touching this Jamaat”. 

In my article all I wanted to establish is that even if the police were negligent, the Delhi government order of 16th March made it mandatory for everyone to refrain from holding large gatherings, even for religious purposes. One does not always wait for police notices to follow publicly proclaimed orders of the governments. Dr. Farooqi says nothing against it, therefore, it is assumed here that he has no objection. 

Regarding the videos: one can compare the two videos here, video1 is referred by me and video2 is provided by Dr. Farooqi. Yes, video1 has some unnecessary music and other visuals added to it, but the conversation in both the videos is exactly the same. If one sees video1 from 1:12 mins to the end, and video2 provided by Dr. Farooqi, in terms of conversation there is no difference. The SHO can be heard clearly saying “despite alerts and warnings there is a gathering of around 1,500 to 2,000 at the Markaz (every day)”, and a little later “if you had been serious since the last 3-4 days then it would have been empty by now”, which means from around 19-20 March. Despite all this Dr. Farooqi accuses me of not enquiring about “the date(s) when the Tablighis were asked in writing by the SHO to vacate the premises”. What could it mean but that he is assuming that unless the police ask in writing there is no problem in ignoring the Delhi government’s publicly announced orders and verbal “alerts and warnings” form the police? In my view the argument I made a paragraph above holds, and if it does, the video issue has no greater importance than some technicalities. 

Cherry picking: Dr. Farooqi questions my objectivity on the basis that I did not emphasise the fact that 1,500 out of 2,500 had already left by then, as per a member of the Jamaat talking with the SHO. This fact has little or no bearing on the argument I make in my article. In any case later on it transpired that while Jamaat was talking of 1000 people to evacuate, actually the government ended up evacuating 23,00+ people. May be the additional 13,00+ were permanent residents in the Markaz, but they also should have been counted. (I have not checked this and am not really clear who the additional people were, therefore, will be open to accept alternative information.)

The police should not have been scared remark: in my view police in India is scared of touching all religious groups, be they Hindu or Muslim. And this remark is made in this sense only. The scenario Dr. Farooqi is paining especially of “bearded orthodox Muslims” etc. is his own interpretation and/or fertile imagination. 

My refutation of the third argument that Hindu religious and other gatherings were also happening at the same time basically rests on my denial to accept the faulty argument “if A made mistake X, then you cannot blame B for making the same mistake”. Dr. Farooqi marks it to be taken up later, so shall do I at this point. But he also questions my contention that some of the Hindu gatherings referred to by Jamaat defenders may have happened before the lockdown in the places they occurred. He claims to have not understood what I mean by lockdown. My exact sentence is “they were before the lockdown, and one needs to find out if the states where they occurred had declared a ban on congregations of more than 200 as Delhi government did on 13th March.” I thought it is clear from the context that “lockdown” is the national lockdown declared on 24th March, and I am also saying that one needs to find out if the states where they occurred had declared a ban on congregations of more than 200 as Delhi government did on 13th March.” This is because people were referring to Tirupati gatherings of thousands. But Andhra Pradesh had no ban on gatherings or lockdown till 20th March, and Tirupati was closed on that same day. Still I am saying such temples “cannot be absolved of moral responsibility” as they knew the possibility of coronavirus spread in such gatherings. I am also saying that unknown to me if there were other religious gatherings at other places they too must be criticised and punished (if they broke any laws). He demands that I should have taken each case and refuted it! But why? In this particular article I am writing about the Jammat incident and have clearly expressed my views that all gatherings of similar nature should be treated similarly, irrespective of their religion. Yes, I agree the 13th March order of Delhi government does not specifically mention religious gatherings, but 16th March one does. And I am criticising Jamaat less for the event on 13-15 March and more for not dispersing even after 16th and continuing to hold congregations of thousands inside the Markaz in Maulana Saad’s lectures. But the real force of my argument lies in my complete denial to accept the morally slip-shod principle of “if A made mistake X, then you cannot blame B for making the same mistake”. Which remain unaffected by all these arguments. 

In attempt to resuscitate the fourth defence that “the people entered Markaz before the government declared lockdown” Dr. Farooqi analyses the Delhi government orders again. And gives several advises as well as predicts my behaviour if I had done this or that. It does not touch my argument at all. 

It is necessary to emphasise in present day India that establishing that ‘a particular writer is biased in choice of issues to write about’ does not necessarily prove that ‘what s/he writes is either wrong or biased’. A writer can be biased in his choice of issues, and still his facts, arguments and conclusions may be sound. However, I refute both the charges here.

In summing up: my arguments for holding Tablighi Jamaat’s Maulana Saad faction responsible can be restated as follows:

  1. That the coronavirus scare had already gripped the world and the country by the time Jamaat held its event. 
  2. That the Delhi government had already declared that “sports gatherings …/conferences/seminars beyond 200 people are prohibited” on 13th March. By implication the Jamaat should have understood that it is very perilous to hold an event in which thousands of people will get together. But that implies only moral responsibility and it is possible to avoid legal consequences on technical grounds that the term “religious” is not included in the order. 
  3. By 16th March the term religious was also included and number of people was reduced to 50. But thousands were staying in the Markaz. The police are claiming that dispersing people was not taken seriously even by 23rd March. 
  4. Maulana Saad was holding religious discourses and namaaz with thousands gathered together till 26th March, and uploading videos of his discourses on www.delhimarkaz.org, which was after the written order of the police and declaration of national lockdown. 
  5. The namaaz congregations and after namaaz discourse continued, which is clear from the written information running in the video (actually Maulana’s audio recording presented as a video) in the beginning.
  6. The Maulana repeatedly exhorts his audience not to abandon gathering together for namaaz, to bring people to moques “gasht karke”, meaning “bring people to mosques by patrolling”. He also says that the corona-scare and advice not to gather together is a conspiracy against Muslims (in another video). Also says even a doctor who does not adhere to Islam is not to be obeyed or taken seriously. 
  7. All this coming from the head of the organisation that held the event and where thousands were staying during national lockdown certainly indicates exhortations to stick to the religious obligation in the face of government orders, and Tablighis actually followed the advice. 

None of Dr. Farooqi’s flogging of the dead horses of arguments deducts even an iota from this. Arguments like Dr. Farooqi’s were being reiterated even on 9th April and they amount to nothing more than obfuscation. That brings us to the closer of the first major section in Dr. Farooqi’s rejoinder. 

Concerns and their dismissal 

Dr. Farooqi rightly points out that I make a distinction between acts of violating government orders due to some ‘constraints or inadvertently’ on one side and ‘violating them deliberately’ on the other. Then he goes on to claim that “[W]e fail to come across a single credible argument to substantiate that the Tablighis violated the orders deliberately”. I wrote the following in my article:

“This Maulana has been holding congregations in the Markaz, perhaps attended by thousands, and delivering lectures right till 26th March morning. In these lectures the Maulana argues in many ways and in great detail that: 

1. In these days of coronavirus threat leaving Mosques is against the hadith (he quotes one). 

2. This is the time to congregate more in the Mosques. To bring people more into the mosques. The torments like illnesses come because of leaving ibadat, and it will go away only by coming more to the mosques for ibaadat. 

“yah mauka kaam ko badhaane ka hai. Yah waqt is ka ki gast karke logon ko masjid ki taraf lane ka hai. Jo azaab gunahon ki wajah se aa rahe hain ve azaab ibaadat ko chhodane se khatm nahin honge, balki ibadaat ki nirdat(?) ko badhaane se khatam honge.” 

The Maulana repeats this argument and message in many videos tracks and in many ways.”

This was on 26thMarch, after declaration of national lockdown. -One of the discourse was given after morning Namaaz. There were thousands of people living in the Markaz on that day, Delhi government later evacuated 2300+ people. It is reasonable to assume that when the head was giving this discourse, he did not offer namaaz alone, or in a small gathering. There are people heard in the audio continuously coughing, and also some voices. Therefore, one can reasonably conclude that the discourse was given in a congregation of perhaps hundreds, if not thousands. If this is not deliberate violation of the government orders, what else would be? But perhaps Dr. Farooqi is unwilling to accept this line of argument. In that case he should have refuted it rather than summarily declaring that there is no “credible argument”. 

Dr. Farooqi then accuses me of “violence” simply because I did not research enough and mention that there are two factions of Tablighi Jamaat. My article is continuously talking of events in the Nizamuddin Markaz, Delhi. I am mentioning Maulana Saad as head of Tablighi Jamaat. I don’t see how anyone could have misunderstood that I am accusing both factions of Jamaat? Yes, I had no knowledge that Jamaat has two factions. But what difference does this knowledge make to my argument? What harm did my ignorance cause in this regard? Dr. Farooqi is welcome to share his knowledge about history and politics of the Jamaat, but accusation of violence is beyond my understanding. However, if some members of other faction of the Tablighi Jamaat felt that they are being implicated in all this, I unconditionally tender my apologies to them, for my ignorance of existence of another faction, I had no intention of implicating them. Actually, I am blaming only Maulana Saad, the decision makers in this episode and the those who obeyed him. I have no intention of implicating even all the Tablighis who though belong to Maulana Saad faction but do not agree with him 

Regarding the whole Markaz episode and Maulana Saad’s discourse Dr. Farooqi claims that “in no way does it violate the constitutional provision vis-à-vis freedom of religion.” I have maintained above that his lectures and actions jeopardised public health, it is proved subsequently by the corona-infection data. Article 25, section 1 of the constitution states, “Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.” (Italics added.) I would request Dr. Farooqi to pay attention to the italicised part of the quote from the constitution. I am no legal expert, as a common man at this moment Dr. Farooqi’s claim seems to be spacious to me, to say the least. 

Dr. Farooqi accuses me of missing out on “the fine distinction between endangering oneself by following a religious obligation and using theology to deliberately put everyone else’s life in danger.” In this regard he also quotes Prof. Danish Iqbal of Aligarh Muslim University saying “[T]he former is a matter of faith … The latter –a devious act of religious bigotry– deserves criticism of the kind the author makes, but of the order the markaz incident certainly is not”. 

Of course, I agree with the distinction Prof. Iqbal is making and was aware of this distinction when writing the article. But don’t agree with his conclusion that the Markaz incident was not an incident “to invoke theology while deliberately endangering others’ life.”

Dr. Jean Dreze writes on 23rd March in The Hindu, “When you decide to stay at home, there are two possible motives for it: a self-protection motive and a public-purpose motive. In the first case, you act out of fear of being infected. In the second, you participate in collective efforts to stop the spread of the virus. … The enlightened reason is not to protect ourselves, but to contribute to collective efforts to halt the epidemic.” I have used this idea in one of my article and criticised all acts of violation of social-distance norms irrespective of religion of people involved.

Regarding the Jamaat incident I have established the deliberateness of the act above. And am unwilling to accept that the Maulana did not know that every infected person is a danger to many others. One can certainly claim that the Maulana might have genuinely believed in his ignorant theories of Allah sending the illness and might have assumed His protection for himself and his followers. But that is precisely the kind of theological steadfastness that I am holding responsible for violating government orders specifically declared to protect people. Therefore, disagreeing with Prof. Iqbal assessment of the Markaz case as of the first kind, I put it in the second of his categories which he defines as “a devious act of religious bigotry– deserves criticism of the kind the author makes”.

In connection with treating equal crime or negligence equally Dr. Farooqi correctly says about me that “he (me) again insists that if a mahant or temple priest if (this “if” should be replaces with “is” to express the meaning of my sentence paraphrased here) found indulging in similar acts they should be equally condemned and punished”. But then he attributes to me something which I did not say, to quote Dr. Farooqi “[I]t is again with unsettling convenience that Prof. Dhankar points out that the Jamaat cannot be defended ‘if there are no such acts’ found.” (Emphasis added.) What I actually wrote is “[I]t (other congregations) can be equated with the Tablighi congregations only if there is evidence of deliberate theological support, deliberate staying together and deliberate instigating people not to obey the government orders.” There is a world of difference between “equating” two acts, and “defending” any of them. As far as I am concerned even after equating neither can be defended. Equation between the two can only be used for condemning and/or punishing both equally, not for absolving of their responsibilities. 

Dr. Farooqi does not stop here, he makes even stranger accusations. He writes that “[I]t does not take a genius to know that there are hundreds of videos of preachers across the board that attest to continuous conflict between the state and the religion yet Prof. Dhankar entertains “if there are no such acts”.” Seems it does take a genius to understand that in my article I am talking about specific cases of violating the government orders on theological grounds in the present context of corona restrictions and equating other cases with Jamaat acts, therefore, cases of conflict between religion and state generally are irrelevant here. 

Still more false claims about what I said have been made by Dr. Farooqi. Dr. Farooqi says “he did acknowledge that there have been theologically-minded deliberate attempts of instigating people to disobey government orders”. What I actually say is “I am not saying that there have not been any such ‘theologically minded’ deliberate acts of instigating people to disobey the government orders.” A higher secondary student of logic knows that “I am not saying that Ramachandra does not smoke” does not mean the same thing as “I acknowledge that Ramachandra smokes”. I am astonished by this interpretation. 

Dr. Farooqi further claims: “Prof. Dhankar expresses his ‘real concern’ in a deeply problematic way. Reading his final bits it seems that one of the religious obligations the Tablighis have (the most pressing one perhaps) is to do with disobeying government order. He goes even further and argues that their doings undermine the constitution and orders of the constitutionally elected government.” And then Dr. Farooqi taking high moral ground sensors me, “An ill-founded concern of this kind –surely a result of little awareness of the history and essentials of the movement– needs to be questioned at all costs. Prof. Dhankar needs to realise the consequences of a sweeping remark of the kind he has made.”

My actual paragraph is: “The real concern in this is: that an interpretation of a religion is being preached that clearly declares that when there is a conflict between a government order and supposed to be religious duty a large section of believers will go by the supposed to be religious duty and disobey the government order. This attitude is very dangerous and can break the law and order any time. The issue is, in a democracy should the religious dictum be subordinate to the constitution or the religious dictum be supreme even if violates the orders of the constitutionally elected government? Facing this question squarely is necessary.” I don’t need to deliberate on this point, I am sure the readers will plainly see that Dr. Farooqi is grossly misinterpreting me.

Dr. Farooqi falsely claims “Prof. Dhankar is being disturbingly patronising in suggesting that one can only understand the Tablighi Jamaat by listening to Maulana Saad’s lectures.” And then accuses me of ignorance on this basis. Where he reads this suggestion in my article is a puzzle for me. All I claim is that the present incidents at the Markaz cannot be fully understood without taking into consideration Maulana Saad’s concomitant lectures. And I believe any one claiming otherwise is either too naïve or patently dishonest. How can one come to any other conclusion when (a) the gatherings were religious in nature, (b) the head of Jamaat gives direction to understanding the Jamaat interpretation of religion and religious obligations, (c) the same head is giving daily discourses on the very issues in the religion that are to be interpreted and understood? 

In this section Dr. Farooqi is continuously misinterpreting and falsely attributing statement to me which I did not make. The whole exercise is nothing more than creating strawmen and attempting to destroy them. I wonder why would one do that? Is it necessitated by attempts to defend the indefensible? Puzzling, to say the least.  

List of advices 

The rest of Dr. Farooqi’s article consists of a list of condescending advices to me under the sub-heading “What Prof. Dhankar needs to be mindful of”. There are too many jumbled assertions and unsubstantiated claims in these advices, and they are often unrelated to my article; therefore, I will try to summaries each of these advises as best as I can and make a brief comment.

First: Dr. Farooqi takes objection to my term “defend” and rightly says that it “suggests some kind of blind advocacy”. He is right, as far as it goes, to make it more precise I would say “blind and/or committed irrespective of rational grounds”; and that is precisely what I want to communicate. I am not writing against the balanced articles which concede that Jamaat made a grave mistake that could have been avoided. I am writing against the articles which use the four arguments examined above. Anyone using those arguments to make light of the Jamaat acts is into blind advocacy, including Dr. Farooqi’s rejoinder to me. 

Second: in his second advice Dr. Farooqi reads me a sermon on ‘Muslims are victims’ narrative. I reject this narrative. This is not the place to go into its details; however, someday I may articulate my views on this issue in detail. All I will say here is that in my view Hindu-Muslim issue in this country is a complex legacy of thousand years with strands deriving their damaging force from culture, religion, political ideology and identity politics. Presently this narrative is sustained by so-called liberals* through various devices. One very prominent device is that whenever one points out a mistake of any individual Muslim or a Muslim organization a very well-nit group of supposed to be intellectuals raises a cry of “maligning the whole Muslim community”. As is happening in the present case. This is not to deny that there are people in India who blame and vilify Muslims as a community and unfairly, such people visibly exist. But there are many more who argue reasonably and reject their vilification attempts. The real issue is how do we ensure that public discourse is reasonable and not biased in favour of any community? Seeing only one side of the public debate and sustaining a victimhood narrative on that is unjustifiable to say the least. But my real objection to his use of this sermon is that all arguments which use the device of “since X did it, therefore Y cannot be blamed” are morally slip-shot arguments. They spiral into ever increasing acceptance of crimes against the society. Hiding or shying away from stating the truth in the name of political correctness will never do any good to anyone, including the group or individual being defended. I find this line of argument highly biased and irresponsible. 

Third: I am not sure what point Dr. Farooqi is making in his third advice to me. I never supported any news “about creating anger, hate, and disgust”. 

Fourth: Dr. Farooqi’s fourth advice demands from me to ask myself if “any other community, having done what the Tablighis did, be subjected to the same brutality and hate?” and predicts that my “answer would urge him (me) to forsake the equal treatment thesis”. He asks this on the basis of a list of hate being spread against Muslims through fake news. One, I cannot guarantee that all other communities will be subjected to the same level of criticism, but have been arguing in all my little articles and conversations that they should be. Two, fake news of very obnoxious kind is being spread in a viral manner. Some of them are proved to be fake, others are claimed by responsible people to be true. I cannot accept or discard them all out of hand in the present atmosphere of crisis of trust. However, fake news does not make me discard the principle of equal treatment and sticking to the truth. There are other ways and means to stop fake news.

Just to highlight the problem of veracity of news these days we can consider Dr. Farooqi’s claim that “[O]n 3rd April, a mosque in Northwest Delhi was attacked and burnt by a group of about 200 people.” The Scroll has reported on 5th April that “[T]he police claimed that there was no attempt to break or vandalise the mosque, but, filed an FIR in connection with unlawful congregation.” Dr. Farooqi did not give enough detail to identify the mosque in question but I think the police statement is about the same incident. Now, I cannot make an immediate judgment whether the police are hiding the truth or the news was fake. 

Fifth: Dr. Farooqi’s fifth point makes an argument against my contention of “informed and wilful disregard” of government orders. His argument is interesting to say the least. It runs thus: 

A. Tablighis are aware “of their status as second-class citizens”. 

B. That makes them vulnerable. 

C. “A vulnerable group cannot afford to take chances.” 

D. Conclusion: Tablighis did not knowingly and wilfully disregard government orders. 

The Tablighis may see themselves as second-class citizens. However, I have no doubt about this in my mind. They should have access to the same rights and privileges as everybody else, and of course, the same responsibilities. I do not accept premise C above. And therefore, the argument is fallacious. 

Then he goes on to mention some Ramanavami celebration on 2nd April as an example of “act of deliberate disregard”. And directly makes an accusatory prediction, “[Y]ou will not write about it just when it happened. At some point later, when you will reflect on something else and you will be told about this event, and you might seek recourse to the ever-enchanting “That too should be condemned”.”

I did not write. One is not always in a position to keep track of all such incidents. Every citizen is not responsible for writing on every incident. One can be accused of a bias of this nature only if: 1. When asked to comment defends such incidents, 2. Has track record only of writing on one kind of incidents, and 3. Attacks others for writing on incidents that one wants to defend.

And for Dr. Farooqi’s information I have written on incidents of this nature which came to my notice and when I wanted to make some point. Just to give one example I have written on some issues without Dr. Farooqi’s prompting. See here. 

Dr. Farooqi’s sixth and last advice to me is to reconsider the phrase “crime against humanity”, which I will take up presently. But before that shall deal with a few things he says along with this advice. In his declared judgment my comments in the article he is criticizing are “exceptionally violent”. Since it is a plain assertion I don’t understand why? The only reason I can think of is that in his view pointing out a grave mistake or crime of a Muslim organization is necessarily violent. I cannot accept that proposition. Then he goes on to site a much referred to incident in Morena which necessitated quarantine of 26,000 people. And claims that this news has not led to any anger. My opinion on the incident is expressed in an article written on 8th April, which in brief is “[T]he man committed an irresponsible act, but at that time there was no ban on gatherings in MP”. In my view this incident cannot be equated with the Markaz incident. Those interested in knowing a little more detail of the argument can refer to paragraph five of my article here. Invoking victimhood on the basis of such incidents is precisely the reason I call such writing “defending the indefensible”. To Dr. Farooqi my saying about other incidents that “this too should be condemned with equal ferocity” is meaningless. To me it is NOT. It seems to me it is meaningless to him because he wants to keep incidents where the Jamaat is involved ‘above criticism’. Dr. Farooqi goes on to state that “[E]ven when we condemn both we don’t end up creating the same response in the society”. That may unfortunately be true today. But selective criticism comes from both sides. One can read the article written in defence of the Jamaat to see how minor incidents are equated with the deliberate Jamaat acts that have huge implications in terms of scale as well as creating mindsets. 

At the end Dr. Farooqi states “I do maintain that the Tablighis ought to have behaved more responsibly.” To me that shows that leave out crime, Tablighis did not even behave ‘irresponsibly’, their ‘responsibility just fell short’ of the degree Dr. Farooqi expected of them. That alone is enough to justify the term “defence” in the title of my article. 

Finally, coming to the “crime against humanity” issue. Violation of Delhi government orders of 16th March and national lockdown declared on 25th March is a crime under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and a violation of the provisions of the Disaster Management Act – both of which have been invoked in the guidelines on the lockdown issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Moreover, the Delhi government invoked the colonial legislation – Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to tackle the crisis long before the union government announced the lockdown. In fact the Delhi Government invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act as early as March 12th. The criminality of an act does not depend on whether the police gave you notice not to do that or not. Deliberateness of the acts (now can be called crimes properly) is established on sound arguments and evidence as I have shown above. Therefore, the crime is will full. The alarming scale of the crime can be estimated from even a cursory survey of responsible print media in the country linked with the Markaz event and its aftermath. Therefore, I have no doubt in my mind that it was a crime of huge magnitude against the society. In this, somewhat figurative, sense I used the phrase “crime against humanity”. I did not use it in the technical legal sense as being fit to be taken for international trials. My article gives absolutely no indication that I used it in the technical legal sense. Still, it is responsibility of a writer to guard against even deliberate misinterpretation of his writing. Therefore, I accept that I should have been more careful against this kind of deliberate misinterpretation; and should have used the phrase “crime against society”, which it certainly is; or should have qualified the use of the phrase “crime against humanity”. 

I thank Dr. Farooqi for writing the rejoinder. It has given me the opportunity to re-examine many of my facts, arguments and articulations. It has also given me an opportunity to articulate some of my contentions in relatively more detail, and firmed up my conviction in all I wrote in that article except the two I have already mentioned. One, my apology to the other faction of the Tablighi Jamaat for not specifically stating that this article is only about the Maulana Saad faction of the Jamaat, though the context left no doubt about that. And two, replacing the word “humanity” with “society” or qualification for the phrase originally used. My resolve to guard against deliberate misinterpretation in public writing is also strengthened. This response has become longer than it should have been partly because of this caution. 

Rohit Dhankar is a Professor of Philosophy of Education in Azim Premji University, Bangalore.

* If a liberal is one who believes and acts as per the principles and understandings of political philosophy known as liberalism then a very vocal section of people in India identified as ‘liberals’ seem to be deviating from the liberal principle of fairness in public discourse and action. I would prefer to use the term ‘so-called liberals’ for this section of people; because calling them simply ‘liberals’ implicates other people who follow principles of liberalism unfairly. 



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