After the Indian administration reported positive Covid-19 cases linked to a religious congregation held by a Muslim missionary in Delhi in early March, the coronavirus pandemic in India has now turned into a communal pandemic.
With TV channels blaring day and night, blaming the minority community for the spike in cases, naming them ‘super spreaders’ and generating more Islamophobia than there already prevails in the country, especially after the Delhi riots that happened in February.
A report by Equality Labs shared with TIME Magazine says that since March 28, tweets with the hashtag #CoronaJihad appeared nearly 300,000 times and have been potentially seen by 165 million people on Twitter. It wasn’t enough that the news media created the #Covidiot to ostracize the defectors, that post the spike in cases related to the religious congregation, hashtags like #NizamuddinIdiot and #Covid-786 began trending on social media.
Post the rage created by the media, staunch right-wingers have now taken to the ground in such blind hate that they’re now beckoning Hindus to the streets to fight the Muslim community.
In the video, a man shouting slogans of “Jai Shri Ram” says that Muslims are trying to spread the coronavirus in India. Another man, along with some children who are also present in the video, repeat these slogans. The man says he, along with his people from his village would ‘cut’ 9 Muslims at night.
Updesh Rana, a serial hate speech offender too took to Facebook to make a video about the PM’s recent message about lighting up candles on April 5 at 9 PM for 9 minutes to show solidarity with those working to prevent Covid-19 and support each other in the crisis.
In the video, Rana targets Asaduddin Owaisi, President AIMIM, who had responded to the PM’s message with the tweet saying that the country saying that India needed practical solutions to deal with the outbreak instead of drama.
Rana says the importance of lighting candles or torches for 9 minutes was for “spiritual enlightenment” as the Covid-19 outbreak had led to a spurt of ailments such as depression and anxiety too. He said he would distribute 11,000 candles in his locality and that whoever had a problem with this endeavor could mind his own business.
The Tablighi Jamaat’s decision to hold a religious congregation was an irresponsible and could have been avoided but no one from the media highlighted other communities holding gatherings while violating the lockdown.
The Islamophobia that was already spreading like wildfire was further stoked by parliamentarians and some Muslim religious leaders making it infamous for being the largest Covid-19 source in South-East Asia.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the current Union Minister of Minority Affairs called the outbreak related to the religious congregation a ‘Talibani crime’.
BJP IT Cell’s Head Amit Malviya had to weigh in with his opinion and say –
Also, Wasim Rizvi, Chairman of the Shia Waqf Central Board also slammed the Tablighi Jamaat saying that organizations like these produced suicide bombers and that the Tablighi Jamaat had deliberately got its followers infected with coronavirus and sent them to India so that maximum people got infected. “Such mentality deserves death and nothing less. The organization should be banned,” he stated. He also sought that the Tabhlighi Jamaat be booked for sedition, waging war against the country, murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.
Social media websites along with mainstream TV channels have been integral in spreading the communal narrative that the large right-wing population picked up. Other congregations like the Belagavi wedding in Karnataka of state legislator Mahantesh Kavatgimath’s daughter on March 15, was attended by hundreds of people including the Karnataka CM, BS Yeddyurappa was ignored.
This happened exactly during the time the Tabhligi Jamaat event.
Also, Ram Navami, at Ayodhya on March 24, was held despite the nationwide 21-day lockdown. It was attended by UP CM, Adityanath. He even tweeted photographs of the event, saying the first stage of the “grand Ram Temple” had been accomplished.
However, no media channels raised their voices about these events. All of these congregations in the wake of the pandemic were irresponsible gatherings.
No media will also show that those who attended the Tabhligi Jamaat wilfully contacted authorities for testing and some even tested to be negative.
To piggyback on one religious congregation, singling out one community making them villains, is only first, going to make testing a more hostile procedure and second, divert the attention of the masses from the progress of the containment of the pandemic and the progress of the fund and ration allocation to those in need.
This story first appeared on sabrangindia.in