Rajasthan government's decision to not disclose the numbers about Tablighi Jamaat members testing positive has escalated into a political controversy. BJP has accused the Ashok Gehlot-led government of putting the pandemic efforts in danger for the sake of appeasement and catering to political opportunism.
The first lot of Tablighi Jamaatis had been rounded up for screening in Churu on March 31 and the first patients tested positive on April 1. The government had been providing figures of the Tablighi Jamaat members testing positive and the districts where they were being traced. But a few days later, from April 5 onwards, the government discontinued to provide the information. This was after objections from civil society organisations, most of whom had been part of the anti-CAA protests in Rajasthan. Gehlot had extended support to them by visiting their protest spots.
BJP state president Satish Poonia has come down heavily on the government and chief minister. He said, “Identification and contact tracing are most important in checking community spread of the virus. A large number of positives are from the Tablighis and they pose the highest threat of community spread. This is the time to rise above appeasement to combat the disease. But by removing the data from its daily bulletins, the government has shown that it is more concerned about its vote bank appeasement rather than dealing with the crisis at hand.”
“The Congress government in Punjab has taken a clear stand and even said that if a Tablighi does not come forward, a case will be registered against them. Why is there such a panic in Rajasthan to protect the Jamatis and even though it puts the population at risk,” added Punia. Several other BJP leaders too have voiced their objection.
The government is yet to clarify about its move, but the only thing Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma said was that, “The disease does not differentiate on the basis of religion and we do not offer treatment on the basis of religion. Rajasthan government is doing a fine job in containing the disease.”
The health minister had in a statement on April 1 said that there is information about 538 Tablighi Jamaat members who attended the Nizamuddin Markaz being in 13 districts. But they had been found in districts other than the ones the government had mentioned. While the matter could have gone unnoticed, by discontinuing the information the Rajasthan government has given rise to a political controversy.