Several English media reported on Wednesday that residence associations of Haldwani in Uttarakhand asked Muslims selling fruits and vegetables to shut shop and leave the place. It is also reported that posters appeared in several corners of Mangaluru city appealing to bar Muslims from vending until corona spread is contained. News and images reveal that several Muslim families of Talwara in Hoshiyarpur district of Punjab are living in makeshift tents after being expelled from their houses. Several Gujjar Muslims of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand were expelled from their villages and are being subjected to economic boycott. Dilshad Mohammed, a milk vendor, committed suicide on 4th April. He was depressed after facing a boycott allegedly for being in touch with two attendees of Tabligh conference. The youth resorted to suicide as boycott and psychological harassment against him continued even after he tested negative for Covid 19. Mehboob Ali and Nur Mohammed, two Tabligh activists of North East Delhi, were subjected to mob lynching at their villages, two days ago. Mehboob Ali is under critical care in hospital. News of similar nature are emerging out of various places of North India.
A tweet by Hilal Ahmed, Associate Professor of Centre for Studies on Developing Societies, is noteworthy. He tweeted: If the communal propaganda on corona virus continues like this we might see Hindu Watar and Muslim Water shops at every railway station very soon! This is new colonialism, where minds are colonised by the political class in the name of ethnic purity.
Hilal is warning of the communal virus that is more fatal than coronavirus. This can be termed as the third wave of anti-Muslim campaign following the mob lynching in the name of cow protection and anti-Muslim propaganda following the anti-CAA protests. This campaign was intensified after several attendees of Tabligh congregation in Nizamuddin, Delhi tested positive with Covid 19. But it's more alarming that this campaign was taken further by mainstream national media proving they are more vigorous than Sanghparivar propaganda machines. Other than the Tabligh congregation, several religious gatherings were held in various parts of the country at the same. Some attendees of those functions did also test positive with Covid 19. However Tabligh congregation was portrayed as the sole source of Covid 19. This propaganda fuelled the spread of communal virus and communal attacks which is more dangerous than coronavirus.
According to National Sample Survey Organisation, only 27 percent of Indian Muslims work in organised sector. It means majority of that community rely on daily labour to satisfy their hunger. Organised campaigns and calls to ostracise that community will destroy their livelihood. As a matter of fact vicious campaigns and plans are on that will serve a severe blow to their future life. It is only because of the coronavirus spread and the lockdown that the real picture of the campaign remains invisible to the public. .
It is a natural instinct of humans to stand together during a crisis. However even that basic characteristic disappears amidst such campaigns of hate. Sane people may wonder how this is made possible in such troubled times. But, the campaigns reflect the changes brought about by the Sanghparivar in the mind-set of the average Indian over the last few years. In a way they have succeeded in grooming up a public who can think only communally even at the face of a danger.
We are passing through a kind of emergency as part of coronavirus prevention. There is little doubt that fool proof action is required to face the pandemic. However no one should be allowed to seize the opportunity to execute their racist agenda. Inequality and discrimination should not go unchallenged. There may be naive minded people who try to whitewash such violence by brushing off questions about them. However that is a deceptive stance. Every advocate of democracy has the obligation to see denial of justice that intensifies even at the face of a pandemic, for what it is and resist it.