“When a thousand people believe a made-up story for one month, that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years, that’s religion.” – Yuval Noah Harari.
India is going through one of the darkest periods in its rich history. COVID-19 hit the country like a storm that nobody was prepared for and we all are still toppling helplessly. We, as a nation, boast of our unity and rich heritage and culture in our national songs and anthem, but the reality is a bit different. People tend to use religion like an invisibility cloak—cover yourself with it, and now you are not accountable for your actions because nobody can see them.
When the novel coronavirus hit India in the month of February, a month later, all mainstream news channels filled their bulletins and “specials” with the news of the Tablighi Jamaat. Being the flag bearers of disseminating information, these channels didn’t budge even once using the term “Corona Jihad”.
The Tablighis were given various tags such as “super-spreaders” and “human bombs” of coronavirus. These people were solely blamed for the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in the country. Journalism in India hit a new low that day.
Almost one year later, India is hit by COVID-19 with an even more significant blow of the second wave. Glaring gaps in the system and its management arose along with the number of cases and unfortunate deaths. The country’s people are gasping for breath, crying for help and hoping to get the resources required for the treatment.
One of the primary resources that many patients required was something that is taken for granted by almost everybody every day—OXYGEN. Major hospitals and medical facilities ran out of oxygen supplies as soon as the surge of patients was seen after the second wave. A lot of casualties were caused because the patients couldn’t get Oxygen on time.
To save their loved ones, people are fighting tooth and nail to arrange oxygen cylinders and refills since hospitals are struggling to keep up with the demand for gas. In Delhi, there are a handful of sites where people can avail themselves of Oxygen by paying a particular amount, but there are people who are providing the facility of refilling the oxygen gas for free.
Situated near the famous Ram Leela Maidan is the Turkman Gate in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. Out of the 52 gates that Delhi has, Turkman Gate is one of the gates that still stands firm. The stature of the gate is analogous to the will of locals living here who mostly belong to the Muslim community.
Some of these locals decided to help the people in these times of misery. The heads of this humanitarian operation are three brothers named Rehan, Faizan and Zaheen. Talking about the scenario, Zaheen said, “There’s no community, there’s only human. Everybody from our area has been so helpful and contributes with all their heart. Our Prime Minister told us to become ‘Atmanirbhar’, and that’s what we’re doing.”
All three brothers did not want their picture clicked. They said that they did not want any “social media fame”. People from all across the city are coming to get Oxygen to save their loved ones.
Two brothers who live in Patel Nagar were waiting for their cylinder to get refilled. The daughter of one of the brothers, a 2-year-old, was in dire need of Oxygen to survive. “These people are doing what only angels can do. We were losing hope by the minute, but now I am relieved that I was able to get oxygen gas,” said Agam Singh, the father of the child.
This noble operation has been going on for a week now and they plan to continue this till the situation gets better. Furqaan Ahmed, one of the volunteers and a local of the area, said:
“When the government won’t come forward to help, the public has to take the necessary step. We have three more establishments like this to avoid over-crowding. Nobody asked anybody for help. Everybody here is helping willingly. ‘Main chalta gaya, Karwaan banta gaya vaali baat hai’. Last year we were distributing food kits for the needy, and this time its Oxygen.”
These people belong to the same community that got immense backlash from the media and the people in power. The polarisation of the population was so intense and strong that it induced communal violence in various parts of the country.
We need to understand that humanity is above everything. At the time when we need each other, we need to glorify such deeds so that it develops a feeling of brotherhood and peace. Death doesn’t differentiate between religions.
Religion is nothing but a crutch for those who are weak to establish moral principles on their own. Religion doesn’t decide what our moral values should be; humanity does.