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Transforming coronavirus into a communal one

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I thought COVID-19 would unite polarized India, but it proved otherwise

Mudasir Nazir
Indian media again lost an opportunity to create united India rather than to divide India on Communal lines even in this critical junction when not only India but whole world is suffering due to the epedimic of COVID-19.
Usually any disaster of any magnitude would bring together everyone despite all forms and kinds of differences and divides. I thought COVID-19 would unite polarized India cutting across all human divides into one. When India was facing such sharp divides right across in the wake of CAA-NRC-NPS, COVID-19 entered Indian landscape. The space that was dominated by CAA-NPR-NPS in the print and visual media all of a sudden changed. For the past four months COVID is dominating the print, visual and social media. It has brought fear and anxiety in the minds of people.
Nonetheless, those corroded mind-sets who are in the forefront of divisive politics have started their game by pointing to a community spreading coronavirus. People should not get influenced by their narratives but use discretionary know-how and not to fall prey to their trap. Religion-based polarization is dangerous and thus vicious. Use of religious divide has pushed India to primitive times and so as Indians they should be cautious of divisionary games the frenzied mindset play. COVID-19 goes beyond religio-cultural and national and international borders. It has no barriers and treats everyone equitably.
It’s spread worldwide and the whole world is now trying to fight against it by raising above politics and religion, nowhere in the world it was attached with any particular religion but in India the media has stood too low and to its worst level as they attached it with a particular religion and blaming Muslims for Cournavirus.
I am not defending the Tabligi Jammat here there might be some negligence on their part too, but by shielding the gross negligence of Government and the Administration, putting everything on them and blaming Tabligi Jammat for all the mess would be a great injustice with a particular Community.
According to the media reports there were some 600 foreigners who had attended this gathering mostly from Cournavirus affected countries. Who had issued visas to these foreigners to attend this gathering when the Coronavirus was spreading rapidly across the globe?
The Government’s failure and the negligence on their part is being kept under the wraps deliberately by putting a particular community on lime light which can be blamed for all this in order to shield the failures and lack of preparedness in advance by Government to tackle with this situation.
With the announcement of unanticipated lockdown call by the Prime minister which crippled everything all of sudden, people got stuck everywhere with least chances to reach their final destinations. So was the case with these Tablighi Jammaties,
Infact not only these Tablighi persons were stuck but the pilgrims who had visited to different shrines and temples were also stranded. In MataVishno Devi shrine there were almost 400 to 500 pligrims stuck when the lockdown was announced.
The biased media however, sought help for the pilgrims and put the blame on Tabligis that they kept themselves hidden in the markaz at Nizamuddin in Delhi.
The manner in which the Tablighi Jammaties are blamed is irresponsible and deliberate attempt to create hatred and violence against a particular community. The media due to their TRPs never worry how much damage they are doing to shatter the social fabric of the country.
If the Tablighis have done something wrong there are courts or other mechanisms available where they can be tried. But by putting the whole Muslim community on edge and creating such a class differences among the people and within societies is unacceptable and worst form of degradation of moral values for which the irresponsible Indian media must be blamed.
After the hate propaganda by some news channels we have seen how the Muslims in various states of India are being treated now. They are being subject to cruelty, humiliation and even in some parts they are being boycotted within their own societies such is the venom spread by these deadly snakes in their well guarded news rooms.
It’s necessary to mention here that the Nizamuddin Congregation was not the only Congregation which was held during lockdown throughout India. The Chief minister of UP Yogi Adityanath too attended a celebration attended by 40 thousand people.
In Delhi, on 14th March, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha hosted a Gau Mutra party to ward off the novel Coronavirus. About 200 people attended it. But the Delhi Government has not filed a case against Chakrapani Maharaj, the chief of the All India Hindu Mahasabha yet.
March 15th Karnataka, Chief minister BS Yediyurappa ignored his own Coronavirus advice and attended a wedding with two thousand guests, He wasn’t the only BJP senior leader there, Karnataka Home Minister and Various MP’s were present there.
March 18th Delhi, President Kovind hosted members of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan over breakfast at Rashtrapati Bhavan. There was no social distancing and no safety measures were followed.
The coronavirus pandemic had temporarily curbed the persistent communal sickness in Indian politics- or so it seemed, until news broke out that people in Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz, the headquarters of the Tableeghi Jamaat, had been tested for the virus. What would have been a regular story in the non-stop corona coverage suddenly turned into unceasing, virulent and propaganda.
A large section of the media and IT cell peddlers have mastered the art of distraction. Every time the Government is questioned- this time it is about the incompetent administration of the corona outbreak and the unplanned lockdown- the lapdog media find an excuse to salvage it from the disaster. Sometimes, it is the insane Nehru-is-responsible type of disinformation, but mostly it is the dangerous scapegoating of Muslims. Demonising Muslims is the easiest of cards to play as it contains the potential to attract closeted bigots.
The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate based on caste, class and religion, it’s time to fight COVID-19 by standing together, portraying the Tablighi Jamaat in a negative light over the developments that unfolded at its congregation in Delhi.
Prevention is the only way to contain the spread of coronavirus. Every individual without discrimination of caste, religion or community has to maintain social distance during the lockdown. The coronavirus is not going to look at a person’s religion before infecting them, this is not the time to embark on a communal mission.
This is a time of an epidemic. This is a time we need to stick together.
(The Writer is columnist and can be reached at [email protected])

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