The Tablighi Jamaat incident in Delhi became the centre of national news and a target of blame as the country grappled with the novel coronavirus pandemic. With the emergence of COVID-19 clusters throughout the country directly linked to the event, there was a massive outrage against the organisation and the country’s Muslim population in general. The Police went ahead and blamed the organisers of the event for ignoring the government’s repeated warnings against congregations and thereby putting the lives of thousands of people at risk as the country went into a complete lockdown to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The chief of the Tablighi Jamaat, Mohammed Saad Kandhlawi was accused of manslaughter and there were reports of Muslims facing assault and harassment in many parts of the country in the aftermath of the incident.A widespread poisonous media campaign was run and members of the Jamaat were given all sorts of bad names and hashtags such as “corona jihad” trended on social media.
Popular societal rhetoric said that the members of the Jamaat had engaged in a conscious and deliberate act of criminality against the people of the nation by getting themselves infected in order to spread and transmit the virus to others. The attendees were compared to suicide bombers. The wider Muslim community in India became a target of popular rhetoric and organised hate campaigns irrespective of their affiliations or participation in the Jamaat and such attacks on their dignity even prompted eminent personalities from UAE to react.
PM Modi replied to grave charges on the credentials of Indian secularism by highlighting that a disease such as the coronavirus didn’t see people’s religious affiliations. But the fate that was being meted out to ordinary muslims in the aftermath of the incident spoke of a completely different reality.
The Tablighi Jamaat did account for over 1,000 positive cases but the Islamophobia that was once again ignited only led to the further fragmentation and decay of India’s secular fabric.
Of the 2,293 people who had attended the Nizamuddin Markaz, 1080 tested positive and were thus put in quarantine. Those who are recovering from the coronavirus are coming out in large numbers with a will to donate plasma. A total of 35o members of the Jamaat have fully recovered from the coronavirus infection and have taken a pledge to donate plasma to help out other critical COVID-19 patients in the hospitals of Delhi. So far, the plasma of 60 recovers patients has been extracted for this purpose. Not everyone who recovers from the infection can donate plasma even if they want to, in order to be able to do so the donor must be healthy, have a respiratory rate higher than 30, must have less than 90% oxygen saturation, a haemoglobin count of at least 12 and no history of cardiovascular issues or diabetes. The donation of plasma and the associated process for this doesn’t last for more than two hours.
Plasma Has No Religion
With so many people who attended the Jamaat event in Delhi and contracted the coronavirus infection coming forward and deciding to donate their plasma after recovering, it is quite possible that a Muslim’s plasma can save the life of a Hindu. The religious demarcations and fractions that the two communities have created between themselves and the gigantic wall of miscommunication that has been created amongst them over decades is futile because the truth is that irrespective of religion a virus such as COVID-19 affects all and the plasma of a healed patient can help anybody irrespective of religious affiliation.
This positive initiative by the cured attendees of the Jamaat event remind us of the possibilities that are inherent in humanity and that the only answer to communalisation and hate campaigns is unconditional service to humanity. After weeks of demonisation and abuse, the coming out of the Tablighis to donate their plasma, brings a new sunshine of hope and positivity.