Several North Indian states are reeling under the second wave of Covid. Mortuaries with no place for bodies, hospitals where patients cannot be admitted, cemeteries where corpses cannot be buried ... the media is bringing out several stories. The pictures are even more horrifying than they were during the first wave. Neither the central government nor the Prime Minister is doing anything to overcome this situation beyond bragging. Things are getting out of hand. But even so, the government can take precautions to prevent the situation from getting worse. However, reports testify that no one is coming forward for that even. Even as the second wave is looming, the Kumbh Mela, which pulls lakhs, is being held at Haridwar in Uttarakhand. It is a fact acknowledged worldwide that the best preventive step against Covid is to avoid mass gatherings. However, the Kumbh Mela is witnessing crowds of millions without any precautionary measures. The ruling BJP and its allies in Uttarakhand not only justify this but are even of the stance that no one should talk critically about it.
It is yet to become clear how the Kumbh Mela will contribute to the COVID spread in the country. However, it is important to remember a controversy from last year. Before there were apprehensions or warnings about the coronavirus, a congregation was planned to happen in Tablighi Markaz in Delhi's Nizamuddin. Even though only a few thousand people had attended, the propaganda was that this was the 'super spreader' of the virus. The media and right-wing groups used terms like 'Tablighi Corona' and 'Corona Jihad'. The central government rallied behind this. The Nizamuddin Markaz, which has been closed since last year, had only permissions for five people to attend prayers the entire year. The Markaz officials questioned this in court in the context of Ramadan. The central government was took a stance that the Markaz could not be let open for prayers. This was while the Delhi Disaster Management Authorities did not have guidelines that demanded the closure of places of religious worship. The Court on Thursday heard the plea and allowed fifty people to enter the masjid for prayers. And this step regarding the prayers in Tablighi Markaz happened at the same time while special preparations and amenities were being set in place for the Kumbh Mela, attended by lakhs.
In the context of the ongoing Kumbh Mela, it would be good to revisit the propaganda riots of the media and government agencies over the past year with words like 'corona jihad' and 'Tabligh corona'. One could realise what a ruthless hunt had taken place then. It should also be remembered that the Tablighi Conference began long before the knowledge of Covid's lethal nature. This is not to say that because the Tablighi meet was treated so ruthlessly, the Kumbh Mela should be treated the same way. Instead, this is just to recognise the discriminatory manner in which the mainstream media present events. In fact these media bosses, outwardly a decent lot, beat corona in carrying viruses. For them, it is not corona or the disease spread that is the issue, but their communal prejudices and venomous perspectives. It is painful that they are holding the reins of the country.