Will the hate mongering against India’s Muslim community stop if Tablighi head’s viral audio clip turns out to be doctored?

Shocking new revelations, if true, could turn the tide in the case. But will it be enough to end the communal wildfires spreading across India?

Tablighi JamaatImage Courtesy:siasat.com

In a curious flip to the charges against Tablighi Jamaat Markaz Nizamuddin head Maulana Saad Kandhalvi, it has now come to light that a volatile audio clip, that was once considered crucial evidence, may have been ‘doctored’.

An explosive report in the Indian Express, stated that an “Initial investigation” by Delhi Police’s Crime Branch has found that an  audio clip allegedly of a recording by  Tablighi Jamaat Markaz Nizamuddin head Maulana Saad Kandhalvi, where he has apparently asked his followers to ignore social distancing protocols and the government’s, prohibitory orders may have been “stitched together” using several audio clips.

This clip had been mentioned in the police FIR against Saad. According to news reports, the police have now sent all those  individual audio clips for forensic testing, along with the final, allegedly doctored audio as well. The clip was said to have been circulating on various whatsapp groups since March 21, before the police registered a complaint.

The FIR, state news reports, had been registered by SHO (Hazrat Nizamuddin) Mukesh Walia, and it was alleged that “an audio recording purportedly by Maulana Mohd Saad was found in circulation on WhatsApp on March 21, in which the speaker was heard asking his followers to defy the lockdown and social distancing, and to attend the religious gathering of the Markaz”.

The police had booked Saad and six others of the Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid management committee under various sections including IPC Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). 

The IE quotes sources and states that Delhi Police had found “there are over 350 audio clips in three forms — raw clips of Markaz events; audio clips sent to their followers; and ones uploaded on their YouTube channel.” It added that “the viral audio is a mix of several clips, which have been edited and doctored.”

Saad has of course said to be the voice in other audio messages such as the the one released on  April 21, where he refers to  Covid-19 pandemic, and tells his followers to “deliver to needy food and drinks to the needy and to supply them with essential items and to take care of the hungry but above all such good acts Prerequisite is that to save the lives of sick and for their recovery even to sacrifice our life…”

He goes on to advice those TJ members who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate plasma and in the clip says, “I request all those who receive this message that they should show mercy and pity on humanity for the acceptance (raza) of Allah, should serve the humanity and help the government by donating plasma blood.”

While the investigations continue, it is interesting that such a lapse has only now come to light. It is not known if Saad himself has been questioned by the police yet.

Delhi Minority panel chief Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, was perhaps the first Muslim leader who had warned the community not to pay attention to “fake videos offering doubtful advice and cures.” 

While it is now important to wait for the forensic report of the now alleged to be fake audio clip, the damage has been done. And it is massive. Communal forces have been active across  India, and have been using this clip, to target Muslims. The community has been vilified and called ‘super spreaders’ and ‘single source spreaders’ of Coronavirus. They have borne the brunt of attacks, and discrimination in many parts of the country. Muslims, not even connected to the Jamaath in any way, have also been attacked in innumerable ways thanks to hate speech and whisper campaigns fuelled by fake news.

Poor Muslim vendors were accosted on the streets and banned from working. Hate videos showing this went viral on social media. “We will not let any Muslim enter our lanes,” a man, who is also shooting the video on his phone was be heard saying at Shastri Nagar in Delhi. The group was just one amongst scores,  especially in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh who targeted Muslims. Even hospitals have come under the scanner in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat for discriminating against the community.

All that because the Tabhligi Jamaat was branded and blamed as a Coronavirus spreader in India.

Most news coverage in March and April was also sensationalised and concentrated on the Tablighi Jamaat’s Congregation held from March 11-13.  Delhi government called it a ‘Covid-19 hotspot’ and a separate mention was made in the Covid-19 updates issued by both the state and union governments till last month.

The news headlines those days rang out with alarm bell headlines that quoted MHA and Health ministry data:  “Nearly 22,000 Tablighi Jamaat members and their contacts quarantined so far: MHA official.” or “1,023 Covid-19 positive cases with links to Tablighi Jamaat reported from 17 states till now”. 

Meanwhile, Maulana Muhammad Saad Kandhlawi, is  apparently continuing with his ‘self isolation’ somewhere in Delhi till now. 


Communal forces using Covid-19 as fodder to target minorities?
Maulana Saad’s error of judgement has put an entire community at risk
Is the charge of criminal conspiracy against Tablighi members justified?



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