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Jailed and quarantined, how followers were abandoned by Tablighi Jamaat chief

By Shamsul Islam*
According to a press report, in a shocking incident, a 50-year-old diabetic patient died on April 22, 2020 at the COVID-19 quarantine centre set up by the Delhi government in Sultanpuri, West Delhi. Despite several request to staff and doctors he was not given food and medicine on time.
The deceased, Mohamed Musthafa, a resident of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, was moved to the quarantine centre in West Delhi from Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital four days earlier even before his final test results had come in, the report says.
“It is doubtful whether he was afflicted by Covid-19 but surely a victim of sudden lockdown. He came to attend the Tablighi Jamaat conference on March 19. He was scheduled to leave on March 24 like several others from Tamil Nadu”, the report continues.
It adds, “But, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown giving only a four-hour notice, he was taken along with several others to Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital on March 31. He had initially tested positive and was in the hospital until April 18.”
The press report further discloses that “Mustafa had been requesting the doctors for diabetes medicine and for timely food. But, no one wanted to listen. He told me that he would be okay if he got medicine and food". He leaves behind two teenage sons and wife, Razia; the family would never be able to see him as he is to be buried in Delhi.
The quarantined diabetic residents describe their plight in the following words: "At the Sultanpuri quarantine centre, breakfast comes only at 11.30 am and that is two slices of bread and banana. Lunch is two rotis with a vegetable curry and dinner is usually 2 rotis with dal. Lunch comes after 2.30 pm. How can a diabetic patient survive? A person who is diabetic has to eat every two hours."
According to “National Herald”, Mustafa spoke to his wife on last Tuesday evening. He assured her feebly that he was hoping to get something to eat soon. According to Fathima Muzaffer, member of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in Tamil Nadu, “We had informed the special officer Sidddique overlooking Covid-19 issues in Tamil Nadu. Through the Tamil Nadu (TN) government we had informed the principal resident commissioner of the TN government in Delhi too”.
However, Muzaffer asserted that when they sent several IUML workers in Delhi with the protective gear to the quarantine centre with food they were denied entry.
“Our Delhi workers got letters from our MPs to carry dry fruits, medicines, water bottles and fruits, but they were denied entry. The police at the gate threw away the food and chased away the volunteers. If they are not going to allow anyone to help them, then they should provide people with food and medicine." Muzaffer lamented the fact that "they are being left to die”.
The quarantine centre at Sultanpuri has five floors and around 550 patients, but the doctors do not visit all the floors, is the general complaint. Pointed out Inayatullah, an unfortunate resident of the isolation centre:
“Doctors do not come every day and even when they come, they do not give us enough medicines. They only go to the first and second floors, but there are patients on all the five floors. No nurses come here. There are several people here who suffer from hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases and asthma.
“Most of their medicines have gotten over. We have been requesting for medicines, but the doctor gives us medicine for only once a day. Several of us have to eat medicines thrice a day. More people will die due to lack of care than Covid-19 at this centre.”
According to a quarantined resident who did not want to be named:
“The building is extremely dusty and the bathrooms unclean. We are worried we will contract other diseases by the time we have to go home. There are no fans and mosquitoes are swarming around. There is so much dust and the asthma patient has been finding it difficult to breathe. His medicines are over, but he has not been given a new inhaler. We are ready to pay, even then no one wants to help us buy these basic items. There will be many more cases like Musthafa’s if the government does not send us medicine and food on time.”
According to journalist Ashlin Mathew last week, another man from Tamil Nadu, who had come for the Tablighi Jamaat conference, had died at Lok Nayak Hospital in Central Delhi and the staff misled the son, who was also admitted in the same hospital. The hospital hadn’t informed him if his father had tested positive for the virus. Instead, after his death, they called his relatives in Tamil Nadu to inform them of the death.

Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) leadership missing

It is confirmed that National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval visited TJ headquarters 2.00 am (late night March 28-29) and interacted with Maulana Muhammad Saad. That is the time for Tahajjud prayer (late night non-obligatory prayer) and sure he had not gone there for it.
The outcome was that despite warrants for his arrest Saad was able to secure safe passage for himself his family and coterie. He continues to be in self-quarantine at some place. It would be a foolish proposition, in fact, an insult to our intelligence agencies to say that his whereabouts are unknown. On the contrary, hundreds of his followers, both foreign guests and Indian had and continue to face horrendous life and uncertain future. 
How did Saad conclude that plasma can cure Covid-19? Isn't  he spreading the rumour that solution to Covid-19 has been found?
Shockingly, he did not seek safe passage for all the participants to hospitals or state sponsored isolation centres like the one. Nobody knows the fate of the foreign guests numbering more than 250. Since most of them understand neither Hindi nor English, they should have been detained in Delhi to seek consular help from their embassies.
They have been scattered in far flung towns and have been arrested on different counts. But why should a Hindutva government care when TJ himself and his team are incommunicado? Did the TJ leadership or his legal team ever try to get the location details of the arrested and quarantined followers from a friendly regime which allows Maulana Saad, his family and advisors safe stay?
Is Amir not ashamed that when Amit Shah's police are hunting down Muslim journalists, activists and student leaders like Masrat Zehra, Peerzada Aashiq, Gowhar Geelani, Umar Khalid, Meeran Haider, Safoora Zargar (pregnant) in Kashmir and Delhi he continues to enjoy the patronage?
The most shocking was his audio message released by his followers on the evening of April 21. In this, while referring Covid-19 pandemic, Saad can be heard saying (in the course of his statement he quotes Islamic scriptures and Prophet Mohammed, which have not been translated):
"At this hour all needs of humans, to deliver to needy food and drinks to the needy and to supply them with essential items and to take care of the hungry, but above all such good acts prerequisite is that to save the lives of sick and for their recovery even to sacrifice our life...
“If anybody on this earth is afflicted with the disease of corona, by his this disease all human being living in the whole world suffer the same way as a diseased body part affects the whole body. It is the duty of everybody to take out and save the life of the person who has fallen into a well.
“I am humbly saying it because that Muslims, and especially our Dawat fellows (TJ members) who were quarantined and were tested, by the grace of Allah, most of them were found to be negative from the beginning. But some of them found positive were treated and by the grace of Allah most of them were cured. Some of them are still quarantined.
“For treatment of such patients of corona the need is to donate plasma meaning blood donation. So I request all those who receive this message that they should show mercy and pity on humanity for the acceptance (raza) of Allah, should serve the humanity and help the government by donating plasma blood. By Mohammad Saad, 21 April, 2020, Tuesday." 

Saad’s audio message which is more a sermon raises many serious issues as in the following:
(1) In this audio the TJ boss is advising human beings to provide the corona patients' essential items, take care of the hungry and even put at stake life in the cause. But he does not tell what TJ under his leadership doing for corona patients from amongst his own followers forget about others. How serious tragedies are brewing at isolation centres like Sultanpuri and other places did he have any information? Did Amir take any personal risk in this fight?
(2) He does not tell why he and his aides are not quarantining with fellow poor Tablighi members who have been left alone to face inhuman treatment and live pathetic life. He talks of Tablighi members still quarantined, but has no message of support for them forget about protesting against the inhuman treatment being given to them.
(3) His audio message says, "our Dawat fellows (TJ members) who were quarantined and were tested, by the grace of Allah, most of them were found to be negative from the beginning. But some of them found positive were treated and by the grace of Allah most of them were cured. Some of them are still quarantined." He does not tell how many Indian and foreign guests are still in quarantine and how many of them are in detention and where. Did he write any letter to government of India in this regard?
(4) How did he come to the conclusion that plasma can cure Covid-19? Is he not jumping the gun and spreading the rumour that solution to Covid-19 has been found? He is asking for donating plasma to government which any agency of government of India has not demanded! Is he not spreading a false belief of overcoming the pandemic?
Amir Saad represents an organization which believes in Muslim Ummah committed to justice and equality. Is not it a fact that in face of the Covid-19 pandemic he has betrayed his credentials?
---
Formerly with Delhi University, click HERE for some of Prof Islam's writings and video interviews/debates. Twitter: @shamsforjustice, blog: http://shamsforpeace.blogspot.com

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