In the wake of the arrest of three members of TNTJ (Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath), who threatened Karnataka High Court judges over the recent hijab case, the Islamic group has come into spotlight again. The Karnataka government has decided to provide all three judges ‘Y category’ security.
Home Minister Araga Jnanendra stated, “The person who issued death threats to sitting judges of Karnataka High Court, who delivered verdict in the hijab case, has been brought to the state from Tamil Nadu by Karnataka police today (Tuesday) after producing a body warrant. His name is Rahamathulla and he has been brought from Madurai.”
Following the arrest of Covai Rahamathulla in Tirunelveli and S Jamal Mohammad Usmani in Thanjavur, questions have been raised about the role played by TNTJ in such provocative behaviour on the part of its members.
Founded in 2004 in Tamil Nadu, the TNTJ [Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath] was in the news after the 2019 suicide bombings in Sri Lanka. The organisation’s name was first confused with the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ), a Sri Lankan jihadist group. Colombo had blamed the NTJ for the terror attack that killed 290 civilians.
While the TNTJ had clarified that it had no links with the NTJ, intelligence agencies did find an Indian connection. Zahran Hashim, the man who allegedly was the mastermind behind the terror attack, was a follower of P Jainulabdeen (also known as PJ), the founder of TNTJ. Incidentally, Jainulabdeen was expelled from the party for alleged sexual misconduct and misappropriation of funds in 2018.
The TNTJ office bearers claim to be apolitical and focus on socio-religious activities, education and democratic discourse. They generate funds from their 10-lakh strong membership and are often seen participating in social activities like helping those affected by Covid-19 and floods.
With branches all over south India, the TNTJ was founded in Tamil Nadu in 2004 and has claimed to be an organisation created to preach Islam to both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Vidhana Soudha Police registered an FIR on March 19 against an unknown individual over a video clip that showed a man speaking Tamil and issuing death threats to the three judges.
Rahmatullah, leader of TNTJ, stated in the video that if judges are killed over the hijab verdict, they they will be responsible for their deaths. In his speech, the accused mentions about a district judge in Jharkhand being mowed down last year while the latter was out on a morning walk.
In fact, he also said that people know where the Chief Justice of Karnataka walks in the morning. On March 20, Tamil Nadu Police arrested Rahmatullah, who is said to be an office bearer of TNTJ, in connection with the case.
Al Ameen, secretary of TNTJ told a section of the media andthat the functionaries should have spoken in a controlled and cautious manner.
Ameen added that TNTJ is a peaceful organisation and the Sangh parivar has been ‘making a mountain of a molehill’.