By Dr. Shaik Muneer
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. Since the virus is new, there is no vaccine until today. As on 03-04-2020, there are a total of 1,076,017 confirmed cases and a total of 58003 deaths in the world due to COVID-19 according to coronavirus research center at John Hopkins University & Medicine.
The whole world is in the process of restricting the spread of coronavirus which has no religion, caste, creed, race, sex, place and it is attacking all humans with no mercy. To defeat this virus, all humans should also fight back irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, sex, race, place and ideological differences. Humans have never succumbed to the deadly diseases or viruses of the past that has attacked them like cholera, plague, Influenza, SARS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and definitely there is a hope that humans can very soon find a vaccine for COVID-19 as well considering the advancement of medical science & technology and global research collaborations.
But what really matters in the fight against this pandemic is the path that humans choose. The recent events in a country like India which boasts about its secularity and its ‘unity in diversity’ stature seems to choose a dangerous path in the process to fight against COVID-19. India has started targeting minority Muslim community even during these tough times when the whole humanity is suffering due to this coronavirus.
India is among the most densely populated countries in the world and the mass gatherings in India is so usual because of its diverse cultures, religions, vibrant festivals, political unrests, cricket, cinema to mention a few. The Indian government seems to have taken some serious steps in the right direction only in the month of March 2020 to curtail the spread of the virus, but unfortunately the interventions of the government are too late to counter this pandemic. In a country with 1.38 billion people where mass gatherings are so common, the number of coronavirus cases has started increasing tremendously from the mid of March 2020. It is expected to increase exponentially in the coming months as currently the testing rate of coronavirus in India is very low ( 0.004991 as only 69245 tests conducted so far out of 1.38 billion people) as on 03-04-2020 when compared to other countries like Canada, Italy, UK, USA, Germany and South Korea. It is very clear from the analysis that the percentage of positive cases and percentage of deaths in India are very low is not because of its major virus curtailing actions but because of its very low number of total tests.
Though the intentions of the government to conduct ‘Janata Curfew’ and unprecedented 21 days lockdown seem to be in the right way, the situation became worst because of its inability to arrange transport, food and other necessary facilities to the millions of migrant workers, professionals, pilgrims, students, employees and so on. It seems that the government has still not learnt the lessons from its failure of implementing its unprecedented previous decisions.
Unfortunately, during these tough times of coronavirus pandemic, India is facing the cold waves of communal tensions as Indian government is trying to link the spread of virus to a Muslim gathering at its capital city that took place during the mid of March 2020. In a country with 80% of Hindu population where its traditional Hindu temples & festivals attracts people from all over the world, where the footfall in these temples has not reduced more than 15-20% until the start day of the lockdown, where the Hindu Ram Lalla movement has took place during the lock down period, where the few Hindu leaders & some state government leaders made mockery about the coronavirus, the question lingers in the minds of minority Muslims, Why, why are we targeted again in these tough times?
The Indian government seems to target minority Muslim Tabligi Jamat organization which is an apolitical and socio-religious movement started in Delhi in 1926 working within the Muslim community across the world to live as honest and responsible citizens of the countries they are placed. Few media houses and few leaders whose hearts are infected with communal virus started igniting the tensions among the religious communities through false propagations. Can a responsible state government order FIR against the Muslim minority religious leader during these tough times of an unfortunate pandemic and unexpected lockdown? Can government come to conclusions based on such a lower testing rates and target minorities for the spread of virus? Is there any behind the screen chronology by the government whose political agenda is inclined towards creating a ‘Hindu Nation’ by first tracking, testing & quarantining the connects of minority Muslim Jamat members and portray the world that spread of virus in India has occurred because of the Muslim groups event? Is the government planning to suppress Muslims activities & practices under the scanner of coronavirus?
It appears that the fears of minority Muslims have escalated more than the fear of the coronavirus due to the actions of the Indian government. The coronavirus has infected the entire world but nowhere have we seen government fighting the coronavirus and linking it to a minority religious group. The path chosen by the Indian government to fight the coronavirus pandemic is more dangerous and it ignites the communal tensions which is not at all good to the society as a whole.
Dr. Shaik Muneer, Assistant Professor, Krea University, India. Views are personal.