On April 4, Hindi daily Amar Ujala published an article with the headline, “क्वारंटीन वार्ड में भर्ती जमातियों ने मांगा मांसाहारी भोजन, नहीं देने पर खाना फेंका, फिर खुले में किया शौच (‘Jamaatis’ admitted in the quarantine ward ask for non-veg food, throw the food [they were served], defecate in the open). The report claimed that the incident happened in quarantine centres in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Delhi’s Nizamuddin was identified as a coronavirus hotspot after several members of Tablighi Jamaat tested positive. They had all attended a meet in mid-March in Nizamuddin Markaz. Since then, governments across states are trying to contact trace attendees for quarantine and testing.
“SDM SN Sharma informed that Jamaatis from different regions were kept in the quarantine ward set up at Jain inter college. [We were] informed that when the Jamaatis were given the food, they threw it and demanded non-vegetarian food. When their demands weren’t completed, they defecated in the open,” stated the report.
The article shared from Amar Ujala’s official Facebook page garnered close to 4,800 shares.
Another prominent daily Patrika reported along similar lines: “Non-veg food isn’t served in quarantine centre but jamaatis had asked for non-veg food. When they didn’t get non-veg food, they threw the ‘pure protein-rich’ food. Not just that, there is an allegation against the jamaatis for defecating in the open.”
Interestingly, this article also quoted [Rampur Maniharan] station in-charge who said that according to their primary investigation, members of Tablighi Jamaat had thrown leftovers behind the building. However, reports of open defecation are yet to be confirmed, the cop was further quoted. The article is no longer available on Patrika’s website and the link to the article now redirects to the website’s homepage.
Saharanpur police investigated the claims about members of Tablighi Jamaat defecating in the open when they weren’t served non-veg food as per their demands. The police found the report to be untrue.
@Uppolice @adgzonemeerut @igrangemeerut @digsaharanpur @Dineshdcop pic.twitter.com/ZYY6kNirAE
— Saharanpur Police (@saharanpurpol) April 5, 2020
The police informed that SHO Rampur Maniharan was directed to lead the probe and he found that the claims propagated on social media, newspapers and news channels were completely false.
In conclusion, two national dailies amplified an unsubstantiated allegation at a time when misinformation against Tablighi Jamaat is widespread. Alt News has been debunking unrelated videos shared to falsely claim that attendees spat on policemen and sneezed inside Nizamuddin mosque.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.