Kolkata: The COVID-19 outbreak in India is witnessing twists and turns amongst the general public that would put a Bollywood masala flick to shame. While the world is trying to find a way to tackle one of the worst pandemic of recent times politicians and media organisations in India are leaving no opportunity to outdo each other in creating a circus to amuse the world.
For a while it seemed that the Corona outbreak has not only shut down our outdoor activities but has also managed to silence the Hindu-Muslim hatred that seems to be the bedrock of politics of the present regime. But come the news of a Muslim religious gathering at Nizamuddin Markaz where quite a few tested positive for the Corona virus and all hell broke loose.
Going by the constant vilification of the community by media organisations using fake information, not only did a Jamaat member serve defamation notice of one crore to Times of India but Jamiat-Ulama-e-Hind also reached Supreme Court against the fake misleading news being run by several Indian media houses.
A Bangalore based Tablighi Jamaat member has issued legal notices to five media outlets, including the BCCL, the parent body of Times of India and Times Now, demanding immediate withdrawal of a defamatory article that linked the Jamaat to terror outfits. The article published on the Times Now website on April 1, 2020, states that the Jamaat has ties with Pakistan based Harkat ul Mujahideen, al Qaeda and Lashkar e Taiba, among others.
Taking an exception to such an article Bangalore based HafeezullaKhan, through his lawyers Aslam Razvi and Arif Pasha of Prime Law Associates, sent legal notices to BCCL, Outlook, IANS, Prokerala (website), Daiji World (Kerala based website) and are also in the process of sending legal notices to New Indian Express and journalist S Gurumurthy.
According to Advocate Razvi the legal notice, demanding immediate withdrawal of defamatory articles and compensation of one crore Rupees has been already sent through email to the media organisations and the people concerned and a hard copy of the same will be mailed to them as soon as the lockdown is lifted.
“We have not yet addressed the misinformation spread involving the COVID-19 allegations and the Tablighi Jamaat members. We will be issuing separate notices to the government and concerned authorities apart from media outlets for the allegations made since another client has approached us to take strong action against the same. How can you deny the right to privacy of these patients and how could the authorities be so nonchalant about it?” asks Adv Razvi.
The law firm will be filing the criminal defamation suit on the 15th of April at the local magistrate court or sooner, depending on when the courts resume work.
In the meanwhile another petition on behalf of the Jamiat-Ulama-e-Hind and Mumbai based Gulzar Ahmed Noor Mohammed Azmi has been filed at the Supreme Court of India against the government of India for failing to uphold Article 14, 21 of the Constitution of India that guarantees the right to live with dignity and equal protection before the law.
The writ petition also calls for action against media outlets for violating the Supreme Court’s order dated March 31, 2020 that had directed media outlets not to disseminate unverified news capable of causing panic.