New Delhi: It is extremely unfortunate and disheartening to see that news of coronavirus cases among members of the Tablighi Jamaat is being used to spread the poison of hateful and Islamophobic messages. While the dedicated troll army of sangh parivar has pounced on this opportunity to distract from the failures of the central government, it has also been aided by reckless statements from ‘secular’ politicians and misrepresentations even in mainstream media. The Tablighi Jamaat headquarters at Nizamuddin, popularly known as the Nizamuddin Markaz, regularly sees visitors from all over the world who sometimes stay for extended periods of time. The general news coverage and statements from some politicians would suggest that coronavirus patients were somehow ‘hidden’ inside the Markaz. Contrary to these absurd claims, a detailed statement of from the Nizamuddin Markaz has clarified that ever since the ‘Janta Curfew’ and lockdown was announced they have been in regular touch with the district administration, in particular the concerned SDM regarding the people who were stranded there. It is clear that the entire incident is being misrepresented and used to distract from the colossal mismanagement of this necessary lockdown that has left untold lakhs and maybe even crores of people stranded without basic supplies. The exodus of migrant workers from major cities including Kejriwal-ruled Delhi has endangered the very purpose of this lockdown and exposed the lack of preparation by both the centre and the state government. All that is being brushed aside as Tablighi Jamaat – and by extension the entire Muslim community – is made a scapegoat. The calls by AAP leaders for FIR and police action against the Tablighi Jamaat sound especially hypocritical and hollow when we see how they couldn’t muster the courage to call for any FIRs or action against those who were burning Delhi just a month ago. We must also remember that this is not the only religious place of worship in India where devotees visit from all over the world. The current situation has presented unique challenges before all organisations and places where people congregate in large numbers. The only responsible thing to do is to cooperate with the concerned authorities and take measures to follow all safety guidelines. Some cases may occur even after all these measures are taken, particularly where the disease had already reached before the lockdown. Amidst this unprecedented public health crisis, it is the duty of each and every one of us to stop the spread of this disease and do all we can to alleviate the hardships of those who are suffering due to the lockdown. This crisis is a time for solidarity, empathy and understanding, not a time to spread the virus of bigotry and hatred.