Written by: Smita Pandey (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
It all started in March 2020, during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, when Tablighi Jamaat organized a religious congregation in Nizamuddin, Delhi, which was attended by several scholars from across the country and the world. A massive surge in coronavirus cases on March 20 prompted a statewide lockdown, dubbed the “Janata curfew,” on March 22.
Positive cases were eventually discovered among the guests who flew in from outside the country and connected to the Tablighi Jamaat after they dispersed on April 4 and returned to their respective states, and Telangana quarantined them as per the guidelines issued by the government.
Following the huge attention given by the media that many of the positive instances of coronavirus symptoms were detected from Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin, Delhi, Twitter started an avalanche of tweets linking Islam and Muslims to the virus’s spread. Hashtags trended by the micro blogging site’s users included #Islamiccoronavirusjihad, #Nizamuddinidiots, #Coronajihad, #TabIighijamat, and #TablighiJamatVirus.
Following the Tablighi Jamaat incident, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court asking for directions to the CBI or the NIA to launch an inquiry into Twitter and its users who were involved in spreading inflammatory postings last year targeting the Muslim community. The petition was submitted by Khaja Aijazuddin, who went to the Supreme Court after the Telangana High Court declined to grant his request for an injunction prohibiting online social media networks from airing Islamophobic or other community-targeting posts. The Telangana High Court had refused to direct the center to file a complaint against Twitter, and the centre had taken no action on its own.
When the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic entered the country a year later, it wreaked havoc on the healthcare system and killed thousands; Twitter India took down messages criticizing the central government for the second wave’s incompetence. The Indian government has ordered Twitter to take action because the identified tweets violated India’s Information Technology Act 2000.
One of the deleted tweets was from Pawan Khera, the Congress’ national spokesperson, who chastised the government for allowing the Kumbh Mela mass gathering in Uttarakhand. Khera’s tweet questioned the “silence of people during vast gatherings during election rallies,” the “double standards” of those who had criticized the Tablighi Jamaat in 2020, and the “government and people’s utter quiet” on the Kumbh Mela’s massive crowds. On the occasion of the Kumbh Mela, a significant Hindu pilgrimage and festival, about nine lakh people had taken a bath in the Ganga River in Haridwar by April 14. According to data from the Uttarakhand government, the number of daily Covid-19 instances in the state has risen from hundreds to thousands, with over 2,000 to 3,000 instances reported since April 14.
Reports stated that over 600 cases were documented in two days due to 9,000 people attending the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in the Nizamuddin neighborhood of New Delhi in March 2020, when Covid-19 instances had only started to devastate the lives of people in India. The l Central government ministers and the media had blamed it on a specific community that is Muslim. The Petitioner’s main complaint is that “islamophobic” remarks are being circulated on the platform, hurting or insulting the sensibilities of the community in question. He has asked the CBI/NIA to conduct an independent probe into the incendiary posts. He has also asked the Supreme Court to order the Central Government to issue rules about hate messages against any religious community, including Islamophobic posts on various social media platforms, as required under the IT Act of 2000.