From director’s desk :
Written by : Jayanta Chakrabarty
Illustration by : Avijit Ghosh
To instil fear and heighten the sense of vulnerability in majority of the general population, the tactic of portraying the minority section of the population as an evil force and the cause of all the miseries of the country is the favourite tool of the fascists. In the present context of global pandemic situation with the spread of coronavirus, Hindu radical groups are using the tactic to infuriate public opinion against the entire Muslim community, which is actually the very source of their own political existence.
As the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic became the center of discussion and started grappling the mind of common people, primarily the middle class Indians, these radical Hindu forces suddenly found themselves outside the ground of their nurtured political agenda of establishing Hindu Nation. They faced the possibility of premature death of a euphoria that they had successfully provoked among the Hindu population of the country by identifying a man called ‘Tahir Hussain’ as responsible of Delhi Riot as if he had singlehandedly set up the mayhem during four days.
Therefore, as soon as the incident of Nizamuddin Markaz Mosque came to light on 30th April, those Hindu propagandists found back their tool to take over the center stage once again with a concerted agenda: culprits of coronavirus spread in the country calling it Bio-attack and Corona Terrorism.
The method of stigmatisation had started earlier. Now, the focus changed overnight. Since the end of February, the propagandists had targeted the state of Kerala, which has an important number of expatriate workers in the Middle East. Kerala is in their sight since quite a time as a certain number of Keralite Muslim youth have joined ranks of extremist groups like Al Qaida and ISIS. But these propagandists put the whole population of the state under scrutiny with well-planned social media posts, mostly with fabricated facts, and with the help of a number of media outlets like Zee, Republic etc. But soon it became clear that the government of Kerala have adopted comprehensive measures to tackle the spread of virus whereas the rest of India was still pondering. It has to be remembered that the state earned plaudits for the manner in which it tackled the Nipah virus outbreak in 2018.
Then the radical Hindu groups tried to shift the focus on Shaheen Bagh protest site as a possible epicenter of the spread of coronavirus. The time was ripe finally to get rid of those time-hardened protesters ever since the incorporation of the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) who continued sit-in movement even after Delhi riot. The virus of Hindu – Muslim divide was a visible fact. The Hindu hardliners still can’t digest the miserable defeat that the BJP suffered in Delhi legislative elections.
During the first part of the month of March, Indians did business as usual although the WHO declared Coronavirus spread as pandemic. Even on 13th of March, the Health Ministry declared seeing no imminent threat from coronavirus. Big religious events from all religious faiths took place where we witnessed large gatherings, and the auction of members of legislative assembly (MLAs) in Madhya Pradesh continued with fervour.
One the other hand, as a large number of NRIs flocked back to the country along with homebound travellers due to lockdown strategy adopted by many countries in Europe and Asia, the impetus of religion was again dissipated. We witnessed a number of cases where men and women from the affluent section of our society defied all precautionary measures adopted by the government to contain the spread of virus. One of the most mediatized cases is that of singer Kanika Kapoor. But this kind of incidents was not fitting well in the narrative of Hindu hardliners because it was hurting their own base of influence.
On March 19, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally broke his silence and talked about social distancing and called out to the citizens to applaud the Doctors and Health workers of the country for 5 minutes in acknowledgement to their frontline role in combatting the epidemic that would frontline role in combatting after observing a self-imposed ‘People’s Curfew’ between 7 am to 5 pm on March 22nd . And it turned into an overzealous Hindu festival with music performance, dance and jubilant processions.
Then came the announcement of complete national lockdown on March 24 with a short notice of 4 hours living the fate a large number of impoverished population shrouded in uncertainty as the Central government didn’t mention any specific steps to handle the chaotic situation created aftermath the lockdown.
On March 25, the police authority vacated the Shaheen Bagh protest site, which devoided the Hindus hardliners of their favourite subject of propaganda.
Again the hardliners found an issue which on one hand would help to hide the abysmal mismanagement of the situation by their leaders, and on the other hand to discredit the Delhi government aka Arvind Kejriwal. The humiliating electoral defeat is still unbearable for some overweight strategists, the shame is haunting them even in their sleep.
Who announced the availability of service of 2000 buses for the transportation of migrant workers on 28th March and created a monumental chaos at Anand Vihar? And to make believe that the enormous crowd thronging there were from Delhi !
For the propagandists, it is easy to fool the majority of population because a very few know the actual size and the composition of our national capital. New Delhi is a tiny city, and those unfortunate and poor people who gathered at Anand Vihar were mostly denizens of greater Delhi, like Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurgaon etc, come under the jurisdiction of two other bordering states, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
Where was the Delhi police? Didn’t the police authority have any prior information or preparation to tackle such the situation? Didn’t the government know its responsibilities in responding to the humanitarian plight?
We’ve noticed identical of situation during the Delhi riot and its aftermath. That time we’ve seen the National Security advisor, Ajit Doval on the ground to tackle the havoc and the frontline role to bring back confidence in people.
This is surprising and simultaneously frightening to see the Home Ministry’s absentee role in Delhi, the capital of our country.
Nizamuddin Markaz incident is one of worst cases of religious bigotry in the recent time, continuing a large gathering inside the mosque compound defying government order on public health protection. It is also fact a large number of Muslim clerics through out the country encouraged the common Muslims to assemble for daily prayer declaring it would protect them from the attack of the virus, or even Allah has created this virus to punish the non Muslims.
It is to be noted that Hindus and Christian religious bigots did the same thing, big assemblies and congregations. One served the magic remedy of cow urine against Coronavirus and the other the blood and sweat of Holy Son. And these continue until today in one way or other like Siddhalingeswara chariot festival on Avril 16th .
How could a Moulana keep assembling more than 2000 members de Tablighi Jamat for so many days?
What the Delhi police authority was doing? Where was the Municipal authority which is under the control of the BJP? Why there are such unabated efforts to malign the elected government in Delhi? Why always to point finger at Arvind Kejriwal?
What actually haunt me the most is that why didn’t the progressive section of the Muslim community oppose a Moulana who was involve in crime against humanity? And it happened just in a few weeks after the tragic Delhi riot!
We all know about the mismanagement of the central government in protecting the population from a possible catastrophic situation. But the stubborn attitude of a Moulana and the followers of Tablighi Jamaat by gathering inside a mosque compound for days have given the hardline Hindu nationalists the subterfuge to divert attention and have overshadowed the real issue of paramount importance: the plight of the marginal population of the country – Social Murder.
I myself raised the issue since a long time as I hardly see any name from new generation from the Muslim community except those old vanguards like Javed Akther or Arif Mohammad Khan (although the last one showing all tendencies of a collaborator) who can go for scathing critic of radical clergies. Irhan Habib has focussed on “The Perversion of Islam Caused By The Wahhabi-Saudi Combine”, and Hasan Suroor argued on “Who Killed Liberal Islam”.`
The fight has to come from inside the Muslim community and their courage and win over radical Muslim clerics will also invigorate the fight of Hindu seculars and liberals against theirs own radical elements.
To be frank, the above mentioned absence of opposition since the invalidation of the Supreme Court order on banning Triple Talaq delivered on Shah Bano divorce case, has strengthen the position of radical Islamists, and vis versa, it has given their counterparts in the Hindu community constant opportunity to consolidate its strength and, the political leaders have indulged the growing trend of religious bigotry one way or other to serve their interests. Now the Hindu radical forces are determined to write a new narrative of the country wiping out the Muslim from the social map. And they do not give a damn if you call them fascists.