‘Chronology’ is a term that has broken the internet after Home Minister Amit Shah used it while making a reference to the implementation of the National Register of Citizens(NRC) in the country. Google trends result in the word ‘Chronology’ reveals that most of the netizens who searched Google for this term belong to Indian cities. However, ever since the globally acknowledged pandemic and infodemic hit India, as per the daily analysis of Twitter trends, netizens in the country are all busy talking about COVID-19 and its outbreak. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide-lockdown on March 24 – mass gatherings, movement on the streets, and traveling had been prohibited as a result of the announcement. COVID-19 cases in India are on a spike, and the probability of the community transmission is being suspected. However, officials have maintained that the country has not yet entered the third stage as the number of cases is not exponentially increasing. Amid the ongoing debates on community transmission, the national capital is witnessing a major controversy as a gathering of people belonging to a particular community has been not only reported but also been declared as a Coronavirus hotspot and cluster. Indian media outlets, divided by their ideological leniency and/or affiliation, are narrating their versions of the whole controversy. However, a claim is going viral which, using the term ‘Chronology’, tries to explain the series of events that took place from the gathering to the evacuation of hundreds of people at Nizamuddin Markaz. The claim is a part of a set of images from a carousel post on Instagram. The entire post can be seen below.
The intensity of this claim on Twitter can be viewed here.
As we started our investigation to fact-check the said claim, we first searched for more information on why, how, and when the controversy started. A Google search led us to a report published by NDTV, which explains the whole issue in detail.
The Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz — a building at south Delhi’s Nizamuddin area — has been declared a coronavirus “hotspot” by the Centre. Of the thousands who attended an 8-day religious programme earlier this month, more than 90 people have contracted the virus there, presumably from people from abroad who attended it.
As per the NDTV report, The Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz is a building in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin area. The building has been declared a coronavirus hotspot by the Central Government. The report further informs that thousands attended an 8-day religious program organized at Markaz Nizamuddin earlier this month and seven deaths have been linked to gathering out of which six have been reported in the Indian state of Telangana and one in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
As we proceed to check the authenticity of the claims made in the viral post regarding the series of events that took place in the said gathering, we first listed the events as claimed in the viral, the same can be viewed below.
What’s the #Nizamuddin Controversy?
- March 13: Ministry of Health circular says, “Coronavirus NOT health emergency.”
- March 13: Jamaat(a religious congregation of around 4000 people) at Nizamuddin Markaz (headquarters) starts.
- March 15: Jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz ends.
- March 16: Hindu Mahasabha conducts GauMautra party to cure coronavirus.
- March 16: Delhi Government Notification to close all religious institutions.
- March 17: 40000 visitors still at Tirupati.
- March 18: 40000 visitors still at Tirupati.
- March 19: Tirupati was closed, PM announces Janta Curfew on 22
- March 22: Janta Curfew
- March 22: 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm 100s of people gather in many mini celebratory rallies beating utensils and singing songs.
- March 25: India Lockdown Announced.
- March 25: UP CM Yogi attends the Ram Lalla movement event.
- March 30: 6 people who’ve been to Tableeghi Jamaat congregation on 13-15 March die.
- March 30: Media overdrive to hide govt mistakes and start propaganda to blame the Muslims.
Indian media as expected covering for govt incompetence and demonizing Muslims.
On March 13, the Ministry of Health circular says, “Coronavirus NOT health emergency.”
Yes, in a media briefing on March 13, 2020, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Luv Agarwal said, “Coronavirus is not a health emergency.” The same can be seen in this video (From 15.12 minutes to 15.17 minutes) uploaded on YouTube by the PIB India.
On March 13, Jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz started.
There is no clear information about when the Jamaat indeed started, however, a timeline of events reported by India Today informs that the Jamaat started on March 13, but the said information can not be independently verified by Newschecker.
Over 200 people who attended the Nizamuddin event have been quarantined in Delhi. (PTI) Delhi was put on complete lockdown days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown. Over 3400 people had gathered at the Nizamuddin area for the Tablighi Jamaat event.
Jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz ends on March 15.
As per the press release issued by the Markaz Nizamuddin, the ongoing programs at Markaz discontinued only after The Prime Minister announced the Janta Curfew on March 21, 2020. The said press release was posted by a Twitter handle, namely ‘Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin.’
The contents of the said press release were further amplified by several media and news outlets such as The Statesman, India TV, CNN News 18, LatestLY, Newsd among others. The same can be verified here 1, 2.
When we searched the Twitter handle, website, Facebook Page of a team namely ‘Delhi Markaz’ that is associated with the Markaz Nizamuddin, we found some evidence that suggests that the religious programs did not end on March 15, 2020.
For instance, a creative posted by ‘Delhi Markaz’ on Facebook and Twitter both dated March 14 reads that a religious program, namely ‘Andhra Pradesh JOD,’ will be held on March 15, 16 and March 17.
An archived version of the said Facebook post can be viewed here.
The tweet made by ‘Delhi Markaz’ can be viewed below.
An archived version of the same can be viewed here.
Furthermore, when we searched the YouTube channel of ‘Delhi Markaz’, we found multiple videos of religious programs uploaded between March 13, 2020 and March 29, 2020. Though there are no visuals in the video, numerous male voices can be heard in the background, some voices of coughing can also be heard in many of the videos. It is noteworthy that the location and date of every religious program are accordingly mentioned in the videos uploaded by the channel.
The archived versions of videos uploaded by ‘Delhi Markaz’ on March 13 (1 & 2), March 15, March 16 (1 & 2), March 17, March 19, March 20, March 21, March 26, March 27, March 28 and March 29 can be viewed by clicking on the dates.
Hence the claim that the religious programs ended on March 15 is ‘Misleading.’
On March 16, Hindu Mahasabha conducts the Gau Mutra party to cure coronavirus.
We found a report published by The Hindu dated March 14, which backs the aforementioned claim, however, the date mentioned in the claim is not right as the said ‘GauMutra’ (Cow Urine) party was organized on March 14 and not on March 16, as claimed. Hence, claim four is partially true.
People lined up for their share of cow urine being poured from kettles into ‘kulhads’, at a ‘gaumutra party’ (cow urine party) here organised by Swami Chakrapani, the president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha. The event began with a ‘yagna’ and prayers to the cow and the virus itself, asking it to leave peacefully and not kill any more people.
Result: Partially True
On March 16, Delhi Government Notification to close all religious institutions.
When we searched Google to verify the aforementioned claim, we found that the Delhi Government indeed issued one such notice on March 16. The same can be found here.
However, when we searched further, we found another notice issued by the Delhi government on March 13 that prohibits gatherings beyond 200 people. The same can be verified here.
We also found a notice issued by the Delhi government on March 12 that advises people with travel history of 14 days to a country where COVID-19 has been reported and who have developed COVID-19 symptoms, must contact the State/District control rooms. The notice further states that those who have the same travel history and are asymptomatic should isolate themselves at home.
An excerpt from the notice issued on March 12, is as follows,
“8. If any person with a history of travel in the last 14days to a country or area from where COVID-19 has been reported, develop symptoms, he must contact the State/District control rooms (as per Annexure-1) so that necessary measures if required may be initiated by the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of NCT of Delhi.
9. All persons with a history of travel to a country or area from where COVID19 has been reported in the last 14days, but who do not have any symptoms of cough, fever, difficulty in breathing, should isolate themselves at home. Such persons must take precautions to avoid contact with any person, including family members, for 14 days from the date of arrival from such an area.”
The same notice can be viewed here.
We also found the statement of Markaz Nizamuddin which can be viewed here. As per the statement, “Everything is normal inside the Markaz, Markaz members informed Delhi Police about the situation prevailing inside the Markaz because of a huge gathering. Delhi police too expressed their willingness to set out the stranded people inside the Markaz Nizamuddin but they did not have the resources. We sent some people back to their home not once but twice and it is noteworthy that none of them was found positive.”
In a rebuttal to the aforementioned statement made by the Markaz Nizamuddin, Delhi Police on March 31 released a video, which they claim was shot on March 23, to prove that they warned the Markaz members against the gathering.
Result: Partially True
On March 17, 40000 visitors were still at Tirupati.
We searched Google with the same keywords as of the claim and we found a fact-check report published by ABP News, which backs the claim that devotees in large numbers were present at Tirupati Temple. However, the figure quoted in the claim could not be independently verified by Newschecker.
In the wake of deadly Coronavirus, the Vatican City streets are empty. The same is the case with Mecca. Devotees are nowhere to be seen at these holy places. The holy places are empty amid coronavirus outbreak in the world. But there is a different case with the devotees of Tirupati Balaji temple.
Result: True/Numbers Quoted in the claim could not be verified.
On March 18, 40000 visitors were still at Tirupati.
As per media reports, the temple closed on March 22; hence the claim that the visitors/devotees were still there at Tirupati Temple is true. Here again, the numbers can not be independently verified by Newschecker.
Result: Partially True
On March 19, Tirupati was closed, PM announces Janta Curfew on 22.
We searched Google for more information on both the claims and found that the two are true.
The report published by Deccan Herald on March 19, informs that the gates of Tirupati temple were closed after one COVID-19 suspected case entered the premises.
The Tirupati Venkateswara temple would be closed for pilgrim darshan for one week beginning Friday noon, because of Covid-19. All temple rituals performed inside on the main deity by the archakas would be carried out as usual, said the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams executive officer Anil Kumar Singhal on Thursday.
When we searched Google for more information, we found a tweet by the official handle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 19 where he called for the observance of Janta Curfew on March 22.
On March 22, Janta Curfew was observed.
While collecting more information about this claim, we found a tweet thread by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where he has informed the observance of the Janta Curfew called by him.
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm 100s of people gathers in many mini celebratory rallies beating utensils and singing songs.
As we began to fact-check this claim, we found a report published by News18 which backs the aforementioned claim and informs that many indeed took it to the streets to thank the frontline workers and medical staff.
New Delhi: With bells, plates, claps, conch shells, and in some cases even crackers, people across the country on Sunday evening expressed appreciation for medical and other staff who are on the frontline of the battle against the coronavirus.
On March 25, a nationwide lockdown was announced.
While collecting more information on this claim, we found a tweet made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where he has ordered a three week nationwide lockdown in India.
In addition to the finding mentioned above, we also found a YouTube video uploaded by the official channel of NDTV, where PM Modi can be seen announcing a 21-day lockdown.
UP CM Yogi present at Ram Lalla movement event on March 25.
We performed a Google search with the same combination of keywords as of the claim, and we found a YouTube video uploaded by the official channel of India TV in which UP CM Yogi Adityanath can be seen at the Idol shifting ceremony of ‘Ram Lalla’.
6 people who’ve been to Tableeghi Jamaat congregation on 13-15 March succumbed to the infection on March 30.
In this regard, we found a report published by India Today that backs the aforementioned claim.
Over 200 people who attended the congregation and have shown Covid-19 symptoms have been kept in isolation in hospitals in Delhi. (Photo: PTI) The Telangana government has revealed that six people who participated in a religious congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area, tested positive for coronavirus and have now died.
However, while searching for more information on the claim, we found a recently published report by Outlook, which informs that as many as 5,000 who have been to the Nizamuddin congregation are quarantined.
In a sweeping nationwide hunt, authorities across states have identified more than 6,000 people who attended the Nizamuddin Tablighi Jamaat congregation, the biggest COVID-19 hotspot in India, as more than 375 fresh cases of infection emerged on Wednesday to take the tally to close to 1,900 with at least 55 deaths.
Media overdrive to hide govt mistakes and start propaganda to blame the Muslims. (The claim refers to the coverage of the Nizamuddin controversy till March 30.)
Claim No. 14, which is a conclusion of the term ‘Chronology,’ we have mentioned at the very beginning of the article; hence we are writing a conclusion in the verification of the aforementioned claim. Basis what we have found during our investigation, moreover, basis the content posted on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube by ‘Delhi Markaz’, we can say it is not entirely government’s mistake as despite, many warnings issued by the Delhi government as well as central health agencies, people gathered for Nizamuddin congregation not just hid their travel history but didn’t isolate themselves as a precautionary measure to contain COVID-19. During our investigation, we also found that the so-called ‘free media’ in India, is propagating the idea of the ideology it often affiliates itself with, during the coverage of various sensitive issues. If we have to conclude, as a chronological conclusion, we would like to question the role of Delhi Police, Delhi Government and Indian media outlets as well but notwithstanding the sheer ineptitude of Delhi Government, Central Government and Delhi Police, Markaz Nizamuddin could have become pro-active by isolating and presenting those with travel history of 14 days to COVID-19 affected countries to State/District control rooms. However, the claimed chronology of events that took place in the aftermath of the Nizamuddin Congregation is ‘Misleading.’ It is also noteworthy that while accusing and proving the hegemony of Central and Delhi Governments, media outlets, the said post itself commits the fallacies what it accuses others of doing.
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