Fake news about Tablighi Jamaatis while WHO urges against religious profiling
While Tablighi Jamat congregation in New Delhi continues to be blamed by the media and now the government, WHO emergency programme director urges against religious profiling of cases.
According to Down To Earth, the Indian government has blamed the spike in COVID-19 cases on the congregation of the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin, New Delhi. While briefing the media, union health ministry joint secretary, Lav Agarwal provided information about how the congregation had accelerated the spread of COVID-19 in different states. When the issue was raised at a press conference of the World Health Organisation (WHO), its emergence programme coordinator, Mike Ryan reportedly said that the religious profiling does not help.
The news portal Siasat has reported several instances of fake news spread by news portals which have been contested by local authorities. In a pattern, several of them have claimed that the Jamaati COVID-19 patients have been demanding non-veg food. According to the Siasat report, the popular Hindi-language daily Amar Ujala published a front page report claiming that quarantined members of the Jamaat congregation demanded vegetarian food and biryani in Saharanpur. When denied, the Amar Ujala report claimed the quarantined Jamaatis supposedly went on a rampage and defecated in the open in the hospital they were quarantined. The Saharanpur Police had to post a message on social media to refute this claim and warned of circulating fake news.
The Siasat report also highlighted a news story published by Hindi-language daily Hindustan, which claimed that 13 Jamaatis in quarantine also demanded biryani and non-veg food and supposedly created a ruckus when denied. This too was refuted by the local police on social media.
These reports have been published despite several warnings from the government against publishing unverified reports which have turned out to be fake. Similar and more dangerous rumours have been circulated on social media messenger, WhatsApp. Earlier, some TV news channels had gone ballistic against the Tablighi Jamaat when the spread of COVID-19 amongst some of its congregation attendees was reported.