Tablighi Jama’at: from media pandemic to “scapegoat” remark of Bombay High Court
“A political government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats.”
Justice TV Nalawade
Aurangabad: The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court Saturday dismissed an FIR lodged against members of a foreign Tablighi Jama’at. The court also criticized the role of the media and said that the media made the Tablighi Jama’at a “scapegoat”.
A total of 29 people belonging to Jama’at were booked under various provisions such as violation of IPC and violation of Tourist Visa Rules. They were accused of violating visa rules by attending an event at the Delhi headquarters of Tablighi Jama’at called Markaz (Centre).
Police had registered a case against 29 foreign nationals belonging to the Jama’at besides six Indian nationals and mosque trustees for supporting them.
Advocate Mazhar Jagirdar said that the petitioners belonging to this foreign missionary group had said that they had come to India on visa issued by the Government of India. Jagirdar also argued in the court that they had been tested negative for Covid-19 when they arrived in India. Only then they had been allowed to come out of the airport.
Moreover, they also informed the Superintendent of Police of Ahmednagar district about their arrivals. Public transport was prohibited after March 23 due to the lockdown. Hotels and lodges were closed. Therefore, they were given shelter in mosques. They were not involved in any illegal activity. There was also no violation of the order of the District Collector.
The record of this matter and the submissions made show that action of Central Government was taken mainly against Muslim persons who had come to Markaz Delhi for Tablighi Jama’at. Similar action was not taken against other foreigners belonging to other religions. Due to these circumstances, the background of the action and what is achieved needs to be considered by the Court.”
Jagirdar said that the Jama’at people had followed the guidelines of social distance even at the Jama’at Markaz. When visas were issued, they were not asked to inform the local authorities about their visits. Still, they had informed the authorities. Also, under visa requirements, visiting religious places (such as mosques) was not prohibited.
Justice TV Nalawade said, “A political Government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats.”
Facts and myths of religious gathering
He also said that five foreign nationals belonging to the Tablighi Jama’at had tested positive for Coronavirus in three separate cases. The DSP said that the District Magistrate had issued an order directing the closure of all public places. However, despite restrictions orders and visa requirements, the applicants had participated in religious activity.
In addition, it was announced that those who had stayed at the Markaz Mosque should volunteer for their Covid tests. But they did not come forward voluntarily and the infection spread.
After studying the visa rules of the applicants, Justice Nalawade, who wrote the judgment, stated “The record of this matter and the submissions made show that action of Central Government was taken mainly against Muslim persons who had come to Markaz Delhi for Tablighi Jama’at. Similar action was not taken against other foreigners belonging to other religions. Due to these circumstances, the background of the action and what is achieved needs to be considered by the Court.” Source
In any case, even from the record, it cannot be inferred that foreign nationals are promoting Islam by converting people of other religions to Islam. The record shows that foreigners do not speak Indian languages like Hindi or Urdu and they speak Arabic, French and other languages.