India is still groaning under the pandemic. Three thousand to four thousand patients still succumb to the disease each day; the government’s premature claim of victory against the disease took a heavy toll. There are fuzzy reports about how far India has been able to get over black and white viruses and the delta variety of the virus.
The pandemic has brutally denuded the incompetence of the Indian Union as also the state governments. It was an ugly sight to see dead bodies floating in the holy Ganges River. Some persons dumping the dead bodies in the river were caught on camera.
Greedy people, even doctors, stole injections and medicines from the hospitals. The black fungus was due to gas being refilled in dirty cylinders. Even fire extinguishers were repainted and sold as oxygen cylinders. Some doctors were brutally beaten by patients’ relatives.
Read more: 22 Indians die as doctor snaps oxygen supply
The government is at best a silent spectator to the tragedy. The ebbs and flow in the pandemic did not result in expected unity. A weakened administration is apathetic to the anti-Muslim upsurge raging alongside the pandemic. They are content that the fanatic Hindus are targeting the Muslim community, not the government itself.
History has witnessed many epidemics, bubonic plague, smallpox, etc. They ultimately vanished. But, lessons from Germany, Rwanda, Sudan, and Nellie (Assam) are that the polluted minds continue to infest future generations. The communal animosity in India does not augur well for the future of minorities in India.
Read more: Op-ed: Future of Muslims in India
Media and research institutions are skeptical of the accuracy of the death toll reported by the Indian government. The New York Times dated June 13, 2021, reported (Tracking Coronavirus in India: Latest Map and case Count) “The official COVID-19 figures in India grossly under-estimate the true scale of the pandemic in the country”.
The Frontline dated June 4, 2021, reported, “What is clear in all these desperate attempts is the reality that the official numbers have utterly lost their credibility in the face of the biggest human disaster in independent India (V. Sridhar, India’s gigantic death toll due to COVID-19 is thrice the official numbers”, The frontline, June 4, 2021).
It adds, “More than 6.5 lakh Indians, not the 2.25 lakh reported officially are estimated to have died so far and at best a million more are expected to die by September 2021. The Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that actual Indian casualties may be 0.654 million (6.54 lakh), not the official count of 0.221 million (2.21 lakh as on May 6 when the report was released. That is a whopping three times the official numbers, an indicator of the extent of under-reporting.”
Epidemiologist Dr. Feigl-ding told IndiaToday TV on April 16, 2021, that the “actual number of COVID-19 cases in India can be five or six times higher than the tally right now.”
The mounting wave of fatalities did not prevent the hate mongers like Suraj Pal Amu and Narsinghanand Saraswati Yeti from enjoying political and administrative protection for their nefarious activities. Let me mention two key Islamophobes.
Amu’s Islamophobe diatribe
Suraj Pal Amu is a prolific contributor to Islamophobia social media. He was a BJP spokesperson in Haryana until 2019 when Amu offered a bounty of Rs 10-crore bounty to behead actor Deepika Padukone for acting in a movie that had a romantic scene between a Hindu queen and Muslim king. Police took no action against him.
He was briefly arrested when his men burnt school buses demanding a ban on the movie, but there were no charges of terrorism and sedition, of the kind routinely used by Modi’s government against peaceful protestors and dissenters. In his speeches, he eulogizes killers of a Muslim gym trainer, Asif.
Last month, he delivered a speech before an approving crowd of thousands in rural Haryana, a state ruled by his own Bharatiya Janata Party. He said, “They (Muslims) make nude photos of our sisters and daughters and we cannot even murder them? Those who try to stop this panchayat, we will kill them; whoever has drunk his mother’s milk can stop us. Muslim brothers? What brothers? These bastards are butchers…they say Section 144 [prohibitory orders forbidding a gathering of more than five] is in place, or impose whatever orders you want, who is ready to face cases? Raise your hands…every Hindu has the ability to enter your home.”
Suraj Pal Amu is a bigoted Hindutva troll. He skulks behind a computer screen and rages hatred against Muslims. He is an ardent supporter of Narendra Modi. Social media giants like Twitter and Facebook are reluctant to block or act against them for fear of offending India’s ruling party. As such, Amu is becoming more and more fearless in spewing hatred against the Muslim community.
Read more: Why Facebook has surrendered to India’s BJP?
The BJP government’s connivance
There is a raft of laws against incitement of hatred, besides Covid-era restrictions on public gatherings. But, no police officer dare arrest him. The BJP itself owes its electoral victories to unfounded allegations against the Muslims. The BJP leaders made Hindus believe their way of life was in danger.
Modi is content that the popular anger is directed at Muslims, not at his government for his failures. Under Modi, the economy was in decline before it was ravaged by Covid-19. He staged the so-called surgical strikes against Pakistan to divert the electorate’s attention away from economic mismanagement.
Add to Modi’s failure COVID mismanagement, his lack of vaccine planning, reluctance to work closely with states, and refusal to listen to scientific counsel.
He also made fake claims about India’s inability to get vaccines quickly from abroad.
Narsinghanand Saraswati’s anti –Muslim harangues
He spews even more hatred against Islam than Amu. At a press conference, insulted the Holy Prophet and his wives.
Belatedly, the Delhi Police registered an FIR against him for hurting religious sentiments with his remarks on the Prophet during a press conference in Delhi. The FIR was lodged under IPC sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, residence, language, etc) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).
He challenged the police to dare arrest him.
Last month, Narsinghanand and Dasna Devi Mandir were in news after a 14-year-old Muslim boy who went inside to have water was assaulted by the priest’s disciple.
“Ye mandir Hinduon ka pavitra sthal hai, yahan Musalmanon ka pravesh varjit hai (This temple is a holy place for Hindus, Muslims’ entry is forbidden)” — reads the board outside Dasna Devi Mandir, by order of Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati.
Amid the raging pandemic, there has been no let-up in the anti-Muslim frenzy in India. An even more virulent mutation of Islamophobia has emerged. By the next elections, Islamophobia in India is likely to assume dangerous proportions.
Amjed Jaaved has been contributing freelance for over fifty years. His articles are published in dailies at home (The News, Nation, etc) and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, et. al.). He is the author of eight e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes, and other issues in focus. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.