The Southernmost Indian state of Tamil Nadu is on the brink of a Coronavirus crisis, courtesy two Thai Islamic preachers of the Tablighi Jamaat- the same sect which has also been responsible for aggravating the COVID-19 outbreak in other regions as well, namely the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia and the southern state of Telangana in India.
On Saturday, three persons had tested positive for the novel Wuhan virus in Tamil Nadu, two of whom were the Thai Islamic preachers belonging to the Tablighi Jamaat and were a part of seven preachers who visited Tamil Nadu to teach at two Mosques- Sultanpet Markaz Masjid and Kollampalayam Masjid-E-Thaqva in the Erode district.
Worryingly, the group had landed in India’s National Capital Delhi on March 6 and travelled to Erode in the Millennium Express on March 10, bringing the entire travel chain under risk of getting infected with the novel Wuhan virus. Until March 15, they also visited three mosques.
As Tamil Nadu stares into a major scare of an aggravating COVID-19 crisis, the state’s Health Department has consulted the Railways in order to track down the fellow passengers who would also be at risk of human-to-human transmission from the Thai Islamic preachers. Meanwhile, both the Mosques have been asked to shut down.
The Tablighi Jamaat– the Outreach Society/ Society for spreading faith is a Muslim sect that originated in Mewat, Haryana and urges Muslims to revert to what it describes as believing Muslims. It is a movement demanding that Muslims embrace the lifestyle of Prophet Mohammed.
Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, the leadership of the sect has however emerged as a hotbed of the Wuhan virus. Ordinary prudence would have dictated that all religious congregations remain suspended in the backdrop of the Pandemic, but the Tablighi Jamaat organised the fateful four-day Muslim gathering at the Sri Petaling Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia attended by 16,000 people including 1,500 foreigners. At the time of writing this story, there were 1,306 confirmed Coronavirus cases in Malaysia and nearly two-thirds of those cases have been attributed to this religious gathering that was held from February 27 to March 1, making it the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia.
The crisis triggered by the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Malaysia has spilled over to India as well. Apart from the latest cases emerging in the state of Tamil Nadu, Telangana too has been shaken by a group of thirteen Indonesian Islamic preachers coming from the same Tablighi Jamaat as the two Thai Islamic preachers who have brought Tamil Nadu on the verge of a Coronavirus crisis.
This group of Indonesian preachers had landed in Delhi from Jakarta on March 9, and travelled from Delhi to Ramagundam in Sampark Kranti Express (12708) on March 13 in the S9 coach. Nine of the Indonesian Islamic preachers have tested positive, and Telangana too is on the brink of a severe public health emergency owing to the Islamic preachers who can be traced to the major crisis that has blown off in Southeast Asia after the Tablighi Jamaat organised a religious congregation in the region.
Tablighi Jamaat is undoubtedly active in India and there can be many preachers visiting India after the religious congregation in Malaysia. Therefore, there is a need to quickly track down the Mosques where the sect is popular and could have been visited by preachers belonging to the said sect. The gathering has already triggered a crisis in Southeast Asia and if India wants to ward off the Coronavirus Pandemic successfully, then it must guard against the prospect of such preachers bringing in the Wuhan virus into India.