Tablighi Jama’at man stuck in India for another Ramadan

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“Insha Allah, I hope to go home for Eid,” says Mohammed Hafizuddin, a Malaysian student who is stuck in India since coming to India for the Tablighi Jama’at congregation last year. He will be spending another Ramadan as coronavirus spread hamper his case proceedings pending in Bihar court for violating India’s lockdown rules.

The 23-year-old arrived in India more than a year ago to attend a congregation in Markaz, the headquarters of Tablighi Jama’at, which took place a week before India announced nationwide lockdown.

After turning down the plea of Tablighi Jama’at to help during the short notice lockdown, India arrested hundreds of Tablighi members for violating pandemic guidelines, a claim refuted by courts in many Indian states.

India’s hypocrisy called out

India this week surpassed two lakh daily coronavirus positive cases becoming the worst hit by the pandemic. Many on Twitter called out the Indian government’s hypocrisy allowing more than a million Hindu devotees to gather for weeks-long “Kumbh Mela” defying all Covid protocol, comparing India’s hunt for Tablighi Jama’at members.

Hafizuddin had to spend last Ramadan in jail after he was arrested in Bihar along with 10 other volunteers as per instruction from the Ministry of the interior. He had to spend six months in jail though he claims no laws were violated by him or his colleagues.

“I didn’t do anything wrong, we were in quarantine when they came to arrest us,” says Hafizuddin. “My father and mentor —Maulana— told me to challenge the case and be honest”.

Massive vilifying campaigns were carried by Indian media outlets with misinformation, doctored messages enabling hate crimes against Muslims in India. Tablighi Jamaat members were dubbed as “super spreaders” and accused of carrying out a “corona jihad”.

“Alhamdulillah, there were many Muslim brothers in jail. they helped me to get comfortable,” recalls Hafizuddin. Zainal Abidin, Hafizuddin’s father told, he is “proud of his son, who is leading a life in a straight path”.

“He did nothing wrong,” says Abidin who hoped his son would return to family in the holy month of Ramadan.

Courts in Bihar last week switched back to virtual hearing due to the spike in Corona cases in the second wave. At least eight ADJ-rank judicial officers have been tested Covid positive in Bihar.

Hafizuddin is the last foreigner Tablighi member in Bihar with a pending case. The final hearing was supposed to happen on April 24 but Hafizuddin fear the dates may change due to the new situation.

The state government alarmed over a spike of 230 percent positive cases, imposed fresh restrictions including night curfew to curb the surge in cases.