EVEN as shocking details keep pouring out about how the members of the Tablighi congregation behaved with the Police force as well as medical teams that sought to sort things out, a realisation must dawn upon the nation and its rulers that time has come to act tough on all such entities or groups, no matter the religious barriers put in place by a distorted political narrative in the country in the past half a century. Time has now come to act in accordance with the law of the land without being bothered by details of the religious dimension of any congregation.
In fact, the coronavirus crisis has offered the Government a unique opportunity to quell any activity based on religious obstinacy. For, in the particular case of the Tablighi Jamaat, what is more important is community health and not whims and fancies of the Jamaat leaders. And if the leaders are not falling in line for whatever reason, then the Government must act tough in accordance with the law and take the quickest possible action against wilful violators of legal and social norm.
True, some vested interests in our society may launch a campaign to malign the Government with accusations of harassment of the religious minorities. But given the seriousness of the problem some sections of the religious minorities have posed before the nation not only at this juncture but previously as well, the time has really come for the Government to act tough so that the illicit germ of organising social discord is crushed in right time with a no-nonsense approach.
The Government should muster enough courage to act tough, and serve a great national cause. Considering the line of action it has taken as regards the serious and wilful violations by Tablighi Jamaat event, it appears that the Government appears in no mood to take things easy. The manner in which the Government sought the intervention of National Security Advisor Mr. Ajit Doval to talk to the Tablighi leaders showed its determination sort out the issue in the most serious manner, which is welcome. Reports are available to suggest that the Tablighi Jamaat has an obstinate institutional persona that caused a lot of trouble even in Pakistan.
This also supports a call for a tough action against the entity whose members also included a lot of people from outside the country. That some of the attendees of the congregation were foreigners need not be an actual problem. The difficulty arose only by the manner of their overall conduct and the way in which the foreigners were sheltered. All these details suggest that the Government would be right in taking things seriously while dealing with the Tablighi Jamaat as an entity. What has caused much concern even at the level of President Mr. Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu was the refusal of some Tablighi leaders and priests to cooperate with agencies whose officials requested them to conduct themselves in a particular manner. The reports that some of the people cornered by cops and medical teams even spat on the officers with threats to spread coronavirus intentionally, also make things worse enough to seek a tough action against them. Such an obstinacy should be an anathema to any administration worth its salt.