The shocking reports of how Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Delhi’s Nizamuddin has contributed to the sudden spurt in Covid-19 cases across the country, have raised many alarming questions pertaining to the behaviour and role of religious clerics; as well as the state machinery, particularly the intelligence agencies. The Maulana, who heads the sect, is still absconding, and should, without any further delay, be traced and booked under the relevant sections of law.
However, there should be a fine-combed inquiry on how so many foreigners managed to reach the Markaz without the knowledge of the authorities. Both the Delhi Police and the Intelligence Bureau are supposed to keep close tabs on non-natives visiting the country, particularly for religious purposes. There are separate cells or sections in both organisations that are required to keep a vigilant watch on activities, especially those that breach the rules. Why there was such a massive lapse needs to be explained by key-functionaries of the government. What really strikes one as strange is that this gathering—and subsequently the confinement of a large number of people—took place at a stone’s throw distance from the Nizamuddin police station. It speaks volumes of the irresponsible and callous attitude of officials.
The participants in this mega-event appear to be thoroughly indoctrinated, through repeated religious discourses, and thus are clearly declining to accept an iota of logic. The manner in which some of them misbehaved at Ghaziabad with female nurses and the medical staff is reflective of their complete disregard for even those attempting to save them from the pandemic. The followers of the Tablighi Jamaat have acted as possible carriers of the highly contagious virus, and reports are pouring in, how on their account, ordinary citizens might be facing a grave risk.
This reckless conduct has resulted in this scenario being used as an instrument of propaganda by Hindu fundamentalists against Muslims. The spin being given is, that this assembly was deliberately convened, so as to disseminate the infection amongst the masses, for the furtherance of a major disaster. This thesis is exceedingly difficult to substantiate in the absence of solid evidence, but needless to say, it has given a ruinous name to the entire community. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that there should be awareness regarding the dangers of the disease, and the issue on hand should not be taken lightly.

Equally appalling was the exodus of lakhs of migrant workers from various cities, including the national capital, after the government failed to anticipate the fallout of an ill-planned lockdown exercise. These helpless people, mostly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, decided to leave for their villages, amidst an atmosphere of intense insecurity, fuelled partly by fake news and the apathy of officials, who did not bother to address their undeniable fears.
These migrant labourers also play a vital role in the agriculture sector, both in Punjab and Haryana, where the harvesting season is about to commence, with the wheat crop ready. The state governments are hopeful that this colossal problem could be overcome by bringing in mechanized threshers. However, the real challenge would be how to go about the procurement of the freshly harvested wheat. If this exercise is not carried out systematically, the consequences would have to be borne by North India, where wheat is the staple diet. The absence of this workforce would be experienced acutely at the start of the paddy sowing season. It is not solely the agriculture segment, but also industries that would bear the brunt if these migrants do not return on time.
It is the duty of the Indian state to safeguard the interests of its farmers. What can be more telling of a country’s condition, where a farmer is unable to feed himself, facing starvation? Mohammad Iqbal’s famous couplet says it all, “Jis khet se dahkaan ko muayassar na ho rozi, us khet ke har khoshay-e-gandham ko jalda do, utho meri duniya ke garibon ko jaga do”. As it is, the Indian farmer falls in the neglected category, with successive governments having failed to look into their multiple grievances. It goes without saying that they are the backbone of our system and need prompt assistance from the government.
Witnessing with a heavy heart the mass departure of migrant labourers from Delhi, one could not help wondering why the official machinery was not revved up on time. When the Kanwarias carry the divine water from the holy Ganga, camps are set up at regular intervals, to provide them food, shelter and other relief. Is our bureaucracy administratively so bankrupt, that it could not foresee the developing situation, so as to come to the rescue of the poor?
At one level, the migrants’ journey to their hamlets amplified the indifference of the affluent and the middle classes. In the past decade or so, the India that we knew, is being further fragmented. On one hand, there is a Hindu-Muslim divide that is sought to be created, but more perilous however, is the split that can happen between the “Haves” and the “Have-Nots”. This is where the Prime Minister needs to come in, to personally monitor and supervise the unfolding circumstances. An impression erroneously is being generated that in order to protect the interests of 20 crore people, the government was unmindful of the multitudinous masses. This falsity needs to be nipped in the bud. India can survive only if the common man does. Between us.