The entire world is facing the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) which has taken the lives of more than 195,000 persons and infected 2.8 million people (Up to April 26, 2020). A majority of the deaths and affected cases have been recorded in the USA and Europe where this deadly virus has, rapidly, been spreading. Having the best medical equipment and facilities, these countries do not blame each other for the COVID-19 outbreak.
But, it is regrettable that under the guise of Coronavirus, India has started an undeclared war against the Muslims in the country.
Since Narendra Modi, the leader of the ruling party BJP, became Indian prime minister, he started implementing the ideology of Hindutva (Hindu Nationalism). Under his regime, various developments like the unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, persecution of religious minorities especially Muslims, their forced conversions into Hindus in some areas, ban on beef and cow slaughter, creation of war-like situation with Pakistan etc. have clearly shown that encouraged by the Modi, Hindu fundamentalist outfits such as BJP, RSS VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena, including other similar parties, have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India—also by propagating Hindutva Ideology.
During his second tenure, the Modi government accelerated the completion of the Hindutva agenda, particularly targeting the Muslims. Indian extremist rulers’ various moves such as abrogation of the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir to turn Muslim majority into a minority in the Occupied Kashmir (IOK), continued lockdown in the IOK, the martyrdom of thousands of the Kashmiris there, issuance of a notorious map to bifurcate the Kashmir region into two union territories and introduction of new domicile law to further alter the demographic and geographic status of the IOK against the majority of Kashmiris are noteworthy.
Reports suggest that besides lack of medical treatment and food, hundreds of the Muslims have already been died in the Indian Held Kashmir due to the continued lockdown and deployment of a larger number of security forces who have stopped the journalist’s entry in that region. So, now more people might have died—affected by the coronavirus.
Particularly, in the aftermath of the Indian elections 2019, news reports have highlighted different cases in which especially Muslims were violently targeted by the radical Hindus. In this respect, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat stated on October 8, 2019: “Bharat is Hindu Rashtra and all Bharatiyas are Hindus.”
In fact, under the guise of coronavirus, India has started the undeclared war against the Indian Muslims.
Besides, the Indian Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) further exposed the Modi-led government’s fanatic policies. The CAA coupled with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is mainly against Muslim immigrants especially from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It strips 200 million Indian Muslims of their citizenship.
Since December 15, 2019, daily mass protests, even by the moderate Hindus have been taking place across India against the CAA and the NRC, which resulted in the killing of more than 200 persons and injuring 800-mostly Muslims by the police and extremist Hindus. But, the Modi-led regime has not withdrawn the CAA/NRC. Since February 23, this year when clashes started in New Delhi between protesters for and against the citizenship law, Hindu zealots of RSS and BJP have burnt properties of Muslims, including their vehicles and mosques and compelled them to leave the areas.
While Indian rulers have been imposing various kinds of restrictions on the Muslims, coronavirus provided them another pretext to increase their hardships. Top officials of the Modi’s government and the health ministry claimed that Muslims are spreading this virus. Availing this opportunity, Hindu extremists have set off a series of assaults against Muslims across the country.
In this regard, Al Jazeera and The New York Times reported: “Muslims have been beaten up, nearly lynched, run out of their neighborhoods or attacked in mosques…Hindu extremists are scapegoating the country’s entire Muslim population for deliberately spreading the virus through “corona jihad Indian hospitals segregates Muslim and Hindu coronavirus patients…In what many are calling a case of “apartheid” during a global pandemic…made separate wards for Hindu and Muslim patients. It is a decision of the government”.
As part of New Delhi’s biased policies against the Muslims, Indian fundamentalist rulers accused the Tablighi Jamaat of spreading coronavirus through their congregations, held in India, while since the remote past, their preachers have been holding congregations so as to why this deadly virus did not emerge.
In this connection, the Indian news website “The Print.in.” pointed out: “COVID is an excuse to push Indian Muslims out of informal sector jobs…What Muslims are effectively facing now is a new form of concerted, deliberate economic marginalization through blatant lies linking the community to the virus…Having been largely shut out of the formal sector, many Muslims depend on the informal sector and self-employment for their livelihood”.
In this context, under the title “It Was Already Dangerous to Be Muslim in India. Then Came the Coronavirus”, Billy Perrigo elaborated in the Time magazine: “The Islamophobic hashtags began circulating shortly after the news broke in late March. Indian authorities had linked dozens of cases of COVID-19 to a Muslim missionary group that held its annual conference in Delhi…Coronavirus fears and religious tension were already at a fever pitch in India Videos [Indian fake news on social media] falsely claiming…Islamophobia has been transposed onto the coronavirus issue….Since March 28, tweets with the hashtag #CoronaJihad have appeared nearly 300,000 times…Hindu nationalists left 36 Muslims dead in Delhi…at a time when the Muslim minority—200 million people in a nation of 1.3 billion—feels increasingly targeted by the ruling Hindu nationalists…One of the key features of anti-Muslim sentiment in India for quite a long time has been the idea that Muslims themselves are a kind of infection in the body politic…the coronavirus is just one more opportunity to cast the Muslim as dangerous.”
Notably, following the secret instructions of the Modi’s government’s top officials, doctors are not paying attention to the Muslim patients, affected by this virus.
It is mentionable that the Indian medical system is widely exaggerated behind the facade of Shining India. It became popular in South Asia through a fake narrative of Indian expertise in the health sector and affordability.
The fact is that the Indian health system is as good or bad as Pakistan. But, it is a misfortune that some Pakistanis found it convenient to get them treated in Indian hospitals. And the outbreak of COVID-19 in India has also proved the shallowness of the Indian health system, as poor Indians have been left at the mercy of doctors and hospitals who charge exorbitant fees for basic treatment.
Recently, three Pakistanis returned from India after medical treatment-all three tested positive for coronavirus. It reminds the Pakistanis that it is better to get treated in Pakistan instead of paying heavy fees and getting infected by this virus. Besides, these three cases also prove that New Delhi may actually deliberately target Pakistanis to further spread this deadly virus.
In Pakistan, the number of coronavirus-deaths has reached the figure of 248, whereas the number of persons, affected by the virus is 11,736. But, Islamabad did not blame India in this regard. But, under the guise of Coronavirus, India’s undeclared war against the Muslims continues.
Nevertheless, Indian biased rulers have politicized the COVID-19 epidemic by accusing the Indian Muslims and thus, created a big divide. Hence, coronavirus may die, but the virus of communal disharmony will be hard to kill when this is over.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations