A year after they were demonised and branded nationwide as ‘Covid-19 Super Spreaders,’ the Indian and foreigner members of the religious organisation Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) have a reason to cheer.
The authors and publishers of a prominent medical reference book published earlier this year, which allegedly sought to paint the TJ member in a poor light, have apologised and even committed to delete the offensive paragraphs in a reprint edition soon.
The development came after the Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) South Maharashtra Unit, raised serious objections to the book, “Essentials of Medical Microbiology” in its 3rd edition which hit the markets recently.
Intended for Second Year MBBS students, the book is authored by prominent medico-authors Dr. Apurba S. Sastry and & Dr. Sandhya Bhat, with a foreword by Pallabh Ray & Sujatha Sistla, and published by the reputed Jaypee Publications, New Delhi.
The book has references to the much-maligned Tablighi Jamaat held in New Delhi early March 2020 and willy-nilly blaming it for “an explosive outbreak” of Covid-19 with over 4,000 cases.
In another reference, it claims that there were 9,000 Indians and 960 foreigners from 40 countries, most cases were asymptomatic but detected positive after they returned home, and led to “several clusters of cases in various states” in the country.
SIO’s Secretary Raafid Shahab and Joint Secretary Musaddiq Ul Moid said that this was despite several local, high court and Supreme Court judgements which have categorically ruled out the role of Tablighis in the spread of Covid-19 in the country last year.
Among them are at least 3 major judgements of the Bombay High Court, in which the police and sections of the media were taken to task for vilifying the TJ and creating divisions among communities, they pointed out.
Taking umbrage, the duo said the book’s suggestions that the TJ cluster was an important causative factor for the spread of the Covid-19 scourge was ‘fake’ as “there has been no epidemiological study that corroborates such claim”.
“After such irresponsible references, we took up the matter with the book publishers and the authors, took pains to explain the real situation, the court verdicts, etc. Finally, they have agreed to do the needful,” Shahab told IANS.
“Pursuant to persistent follow-ups, on Sunday (yesterday), the authors have issued an apology letter and stated that the offending remarks against TJ have been deleted in the upcoming reprint,” Moid told IANS.
“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 to convey the epidemiology timelines, nothing else,” said the authors.
They added that understanding the sentiments of the people, the references have been changed in the re-print edition of the same book, which Shahab and Moid say is ranked among the top in its class.
The SIO has wholeheartedly welcomed the move by the authors and the publishers on the misleading references to the TJ and lauded their commitment to rectify the errors in the reprint edition soon.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)