The world is fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Having claimed more than 2.4 lakh lives across the world already, it has become a major crisis that the world might take a long time to overcome. The pandemic is hitting hard on the world’s economy as well as individuals’ mental health. People have been asked to stay indoors to maintain social-distancing, and only essential services are allowed to run. Rest everything has either stopped or been enabled through the “work from home” mode. However, even in these tough times, one thing hasn’t changed; hate-mongering.
After the case of Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz, every new corona positive case is being seen through the spectacle of religion, and unverified news is making rounds on the internet. The entire scenario has been shaped as if coronavirus was brought to India by a certain group of people. No doubt that the Markaz is at fault, but how come targeting the entire community is justified? The situation is so bad that the police had to come out on social media to appeal to some news portals and a news agency to take down their posts containing false information.
Then came investigative “journalism” by a news channel, in which they tried to investigate how Madarsas are becoming hotspots of coronavirus. Madarsas are home to many orphans and underprivileged children, who either have nowhere to go or couldn’t go back to their homes due to the lockdown, just like students who are living in their University hostels because they could not go back due to stoppage of transport services during the lockdown.
Many news reports have suggested that discrimination has increased after the Nizamuddin incident. A pregnant woman was denied medical treatment in a hospital in Rajasthan. At some places, vegetable and fruit sellers are being asked to show their identity cards and denied entry if they are from a certain community. Similarly, there are some videos on social media in which some self-claimed saviours of society can be seen dictating fruit-sellers to not work until the coronavirus pandemic ends.
Besides these incidents, social media is filled with hatred against a community after the Nizammudin incident, even though people from this community came forward and advocated action against those who ignored the lockdown precautions and attended that gathering. No change can be observed as the media is adding fuel to the fire by showing provocative content, and at times, false information. In these tough times, the media was supposed to be at forefront in standing against such hatred. But things are happening in the opposite direction. Reports on news channels are displaying conspiracy theories around the spread of the virus, and that too without any solid evidence.
While undertaking this kind of hate-mongering, people forget that the ones they are targeting might be going through mental stress due to the lockdown. Uncertainty of future, no source of livelihood, and then this hate. All of this together makes a person go through mental trauma, which may take a lot of time to come out of. One thing which needs to be remembered is that you can never get love in exchange for hate.
Turning everything against a community will end up breaking the culture of the ‘Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb’ in our country. This is quite a tough time for all. Students are going through a lot of stress, as schools and colleges have shut till further notice/order, the working class is under stress because many of them are under the fear of losing their jobs, and people from unorganised sectors are stressed because they might not have enough to survive this lockdown period.
Doctors, nurses, other medical staff and police are working relentlessly against this microbe. Do you know what religion they belong to? Won’t these hate agendas not break their courage if they find you targeting a section of the society like this? Has your doctor ever asked for your religion or caste, and treated you on that basis? If they do, how will you feel about it? These questions should be kept in mind before targeting those who are part of our own society.
No doubt, violators should be punished. A person or group doesn’t represent the entire community and its values. To understand each other’s culture and values, we need to keep ourselves calm, and respect each other keeping this hate aside. It’s time to stand together and maintaining social distancing, not social discrimination.