Tablighi Jamaat and the Class & Religious Colours of Coronavirus

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Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Coronavirus! It is all the while in our psyche. Eating, sleeping and working, it keeps emerging without interruption. It does appear even in our dream. From Facebook to TikTok to all social network sites, coronavirus occupies the central stage of our conscience.

The explosion of coronavirus has led to interesting bits of stories around us. Luckily, two of them arrested my attention.

The first one is about a report of spraying disinfectant chemical over a group of migrant workers in India to neutralize Coronavirus. The incident happened on a street in Bareilly, a district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

The second story spins out of a Facebook post in which a gentleman attributes the spread of coronavirus to lack of ‘cleanliness’ by Tablighi Jamaat Markaz, Nizamuddin. He writes:

‘They mostly live and work in a very unhygienic condition, unfortunately. They claim they work for Islam but by ignoring the basic principles of the cleanliness completely.’

Washing poor workers with chemical, Nitish Kumar, the top government official in the district, said health workers had been ordered to disinfect buses instead they sprayed on migrant workers. “I have asked for action to be taken against those responsible for this,” he said.

The public, in general, were outraged by ignorant health officials. One agitated Indian tweeted thus: ‘Who r u trying to kill, Corona or humans?’

Over linking of Tablighi Jamaat Markaz to coronavirus, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said:

’With respect to the Nizamuddin area, we all need to understand and appreciate that this is not the time to do fault finding. What is important for us is to take action as per our containment process in whatever areas we find a case.’

In both cases of spraying disinfectant chemical over migrant workers as well as spreading of coronavirus to lack of cleanliness by Tablighi Jamaat, ignorance reigns high in some quarters of the public psyche. Media too are twisting incidents to suit their respective audience.

Tablighi Jamaat and the Class & Religious Colours of Coronavirus
An ambulance carries devotees, who had recently attended the religious congregation at Tablighi Jamaat’s Markaz in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area, for COVID-19 tests, in Agartala on April 1, 2020. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The former humiliates the poor as disinfecting them with chemical leaves the impression about them being spreader of coronavirus. The latter has already injected communal angle to the epidemic as ‘coronavirus jihad.’

One must comprehend that coronavirus does not spread due to negligence of cleanliness, though tidiness must be a regular part of our habit. Had that been the case, there could not have been any case of coronavirus in Europe, America or elsewhere as those nations remain high in the index of hygiene globally.

Further, by this argument, entire rural areas of India where the poor lives could have been infected. Luckily, that is not the case.

Contrary, the fact speaks otherwise. Coronavirus spreads from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.

The reports also suggest that the coronavirus upward mobility results from a higher class of people to the common masses. Many heads of states and ministers around the world have tested positive.

Maligning migrant workers and Tablighi Jamaat as super-spreaders of coronavirus is unfortunate at a time when the nation is struggling to come to terms to fight the deadly disease.

To paint the virus with religious colour weakens India’s resolve to fight the deadly disease. In question comes the government that ignored the mass gatherings in time of great warning about coronavirus.

Hope sanity prevails, and fight against the virus is neutrally and medically taken as ‘disease’ without its class and religious colour. Politics? We can do it later in plenty.


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