By Fizan Nabi
Soon after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, most of the countries including India enforced an unprecedented lockdown to contain the virus and ensure the safety of people. It was due to this timely decision by the Government of India that the numbers in the country are still far less than other more advanced nations who were caught unawares and witness hundreds of deaths each day.
During the first phase of lockdown, all markets, malls, and businesses were completely shut and no movement of people was seen except some grocery vendors, who were ordered to remain open to cater to the people’s daily needs.
But unfortunately, after the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin in the national capital, there was a drastic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in India. And then followed the usual witch-hunting, especially by the sections of media which, more or less, have become propaganda mediums.
Muslims were derided, poked at, and termed as the sole carriers of the disease. Everyone forgot how the virus had unbiasedly targeted 185 countries in the world. The media sensationalised the issue of Tablighi Jamaat so much so that the whole focus of fighting the virus turned into a communal mismanagement where now reports say even patients are being segregated on the basis of their religion.
This deliberate misrepresentation has had its impacts even during the current crisis when the whole of humanity is struggling to cope up with a new disease. The propagandistic media managed to portray ‘Corona Jihad’ when the rest of the world was busy counting body bags, arranging ventilators, and trying to figure a way out of an enormous economic disarray that will take years to be set right.
From one side measures are being taken by the government to halt the spread of COVID-19, and simultaneously from the other side new measures are being taken by media to develop another virus of hatred among different communities, a virus that if not stopped efficiently is deadlier than the current pandemic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended the lockdown till May 3 and urged the people of his country to follow his instructions to get rid of this virus. However, it was disheartening to see that the PM didn’t speak a word about the brewing hatred. He urged people to follow seven steps which he mentioned in his speech while addressing the nation. Ideally, any premier of a country has the responsibility to clear doubts and instil a sense of hope and safety among his countrymen, regardless of their religions and beliefs. A mere sentence in this case would have gone a long way in putting an end to this virus that the country seems to have contracted.
(Faizan Nabi is a Class 11 student from Handwara. Views are personal)