Authors of MBBS book linking Tablighi Jamaat to Covid-19 spike promise revision
The authors of Essentials of Medical Microbiology, a textbook for undergraduate medical students, have issued a clarification and assured that the parts of it that blamed Muslim group Tablighi Jamaat’s gathering in Delhi last year for a spike in Covid-19 cases will be removed.
The assurance came after the Student Islamic Organisation (SIO) took this matter up with the publishers and asked them to remove the reference as there has been no epidemiological study to corroborate such claim.
“...there were many large socio-political events and gatherings at the said time period,” said SIO’s joint secretary (South Maharashtra) Musaddiq Ul Moid. He added courts have condemned such misinterpretation of the gathering.
Apurba Sastry and Sandhya Bhat, the authors, issued a clarification after SIO approached them.
“We sincerely apologise if we have inadvertently hurt the sentiments of a group of people by the content of our third edition of Essentials of Medical Microbiology. The intention was only to convey the epidemiology timelines, nothing else. However, understanding the sentiments of people, such statements have been changed in the re-print of the third edition of the same book,” said a statement released by Sastry.
The third edition of the book has a chapter about “the explosive spread of Covid-19”. It said the Jamaat cluster was an important “causative factor” for the spread of the virus. The book mentions how “most of the [Jamaat] cases were asymptomatic” and were detected positive after they returned home. “Thus, led to several clusters of cases in various states.” The book notes Maharashtra accounts for nearly one-third of the total cases in India as well as about 22% deaths. The surge in cases was attributed to factors such as the Jamaat cluster, foreign returnees, and overcrowding in slum areas of Mumbai.
The Bombay high court’s Aurangabad bench in August quashed criminal cases registered against 34 people, including 28 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members, in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, saying they were virtually persecuted. “The material of the present matter shows that the propaganda against the so-called religious activity was unwarranted,” it said.
The Jamaat hit the headlines in March last year when authorities blamed a congregation at its headquarters in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin area for a jump in Covid-19 infections. The headquarters was sealed and thousands of attendees, including foreigners from countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and the US, were quarantined.