Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has called the Tablighi Jamaat’s international congregation at its headquarters in Delhi’s Nizamuddin, which was held between March 13 and 15, as nothing short of a “Taliban crime”, and also urged authorities to deal with it strictly. The meet has turned into a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hot spot in India.
Speaking to Amandeep Shukla, Naqvi said 99% of the people, including minorities, are strongly supportive of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The minister insisted that the fight against Covid-19 should not be viewed through religious prisms.
At a time when the fight against Covid-19 through social distancing is at its peak, an organisation such as Tablighi Jamaat has come under sharp focus for the gathering in the national capital. How do you view this?
It is a Talibani crime. When the entire country is together to fight coronavirus, in such circumstances, such a thing is a crime. Not just the law, but even the Almighty will not forgive such a thing. It is very unfortunate that the lives of so many people were endangered because of such a careless approach.
Another issue that has emerged is that at this time a lot of foreigners were also staying there?
I think the administration and the law enforcement agencies should be extremely strict with these issues. It is not just related to the lives of the people concerned, but also with the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. No one should be allowed to be negligent or carry out a criminal conspiracy under any circumstances.
It is also being said on behalf of Tablighi Jamaat that the gathering was already held and many of them could not move out because of the Janata Curfew on March 22 resulting in lack of availability of transport facilities.
Excuses are of no use. These kinds of excuses makes one feel that something was amiss.
You are the minority affairs minister of the country. There may be statements against the Muslim community because of this incident related to the Tablighi Jamaat.
We don’t look at it as a Hindu or Muslim or through any religious prism per so. This was a crime. The place, where this gathering happened, just happens to belong to one religious community. The participants are the first to be infected by the disease. Such an action damage society and the country at large.
Do you plan to carry out any outreach towards religious leaders or community leaders?
I am happy that all religious leaders and more than that the public has responded very positively in the fight against Covid-19. There is no contradiction from anywhere. For instance, talking about minorities, there has been a consensus about the Friday namaaz. Everyone has voluntarily decided not to offer prayers in public. But there are exceptions like the Jamaat meet that should be strictly dealt with.
Do you plan to launch any awareness drive?
We are talking to all stakeholders. We are getting positive reports from all across…99% of people are with us and working hard to spread awareness. The Jamaat incident cannot be linked to any community. Such crimes are not linked to any community or caste.