The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is concerned how Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis etc will react to the now-obvious fact that the Tablighi Jamaat spread coronavirus in the country deliberately. It believes there will be a general backlash against Muslims as a fallout of the finding. BJP president JP Nadda has, therefore, asked all politicians in the party and the supporters of the organisation not to “communalise” the issue.
In a meeting with national office bearers last Thursday, Nadda told them, said a source, no party leader should make any provocative or divisive remark but support the efforts of the Prime Minister as well as that of state governments irrespective of which party is in power there.
“There was already a direction that we have a great responsibility of leading the nation. The virus and the disease have made everyone vulnerable across the world, of all faiths, no one should issue any statements or remarks that are provocative,” said a senior leader who participated in the meeting.
“This was reiterated when the Tablighi issue came up. There is a directive that no one should make it a communal issue. Only leaders of the minority community can comment on that if they wish to. We have to be united in our fight against the virus,” the leader added.
Government of BJP on the same page
Further, trying to deflect attention from the home ministry’s failure to detect Tablighi Jamaat people entering India and stopping them from gathering in such large numbers at a place when the global coronavirus pandemic was at its peak, the BJP-led NDA government is now concerned more about the “stigmatising” of the community that had initially denied they were responsible for the spread of COVID.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has sent a communique to the chief secretaries and advisers to administrators of all states and union territories, directors-general of police of all states and union territories and also commissioners of police to ensure that Muslims are not ostracised by other Indians in the wake of the community’s obvious complicity and connivance in spreading the fatal disease in society.
Gujarat govt stands up for Muslims
Gujarat Police has arrested seven persons who had targeted Muslims with “hate messages” for the “idiocy of a group” from that community.
The police said the accused have been booked under the Disaster Management Act. Aged between 27 and 70 years, they are residents of the districts of Navsari Jamnagar, Amreli, Anand and Kutch. Police said, “In Amreli Riken Singhav, a 27-year-old employee of a private firm was arrested. Om Navsari, the accused have been identified as Umakant Rathod(50) and Ratilal patel (70).”
“Both were released on bail on Friday. The others who have been arrested are Paras Vala (39), a driver and Jayanti Giri (51) a businessman, in Jamnagar,” the newspaper further reported.
Gujarat Police has issued an advisory against hate messages on social media. Advocate Shamshad Pathan of the Alpsankhyak Adhikar Manch, who is also an activist, said more such messages were circulating through Whatsapp. He said, “We are feeling helpless in such a situation. The hate-mongers are not even aware that Muslims are working with people from other communities to overcome the crisis resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.”
“We have established a helpline for people in distress because of the lockdown and have been getting calls from across Gujarat from people belonging to various faiths. They are very relieved and welcoming when several of our volunteers reach them with food, ration and medicine despite wearing the skullcaps and beards they are identified with,” Mujahid Nafees of the Minority Coordination Committee, Gujarat, told a news website, The Citizen.
Pathan is urging Muslims to lodge FIRs with the police against their “harassment”. “One of the persons, Javed, has gone ahead and lodged an FIR at Sojitra in Anand against one of the persons spreading hate. We are asking more and more people facing harassment to follow suit. Perhaps this will discourage the hate-mongers.”
“We have been trying our best to tell people not to resort to such communal diatribe as it will only vitiate the atmosphere at a time where everyone needs to come together to deal with the corona pandemic,” Pathan said.
BJP govt failed on another front: It trusted China
While the BJP dispensation’s concern for Muslims may be good for the consumption of the media nationally as well as internationally — as much as it may humour the politically correct, secular gentry in society — the party and its government do not just have an anomalous domestic policy to handle different communities. Whereas institutions and intelligence agencies of advanced countries are coming up with one investigation report against China after another, Prime Minister Narendra Modi still quotes the World Health Organisation in his speeches while Foreign Minister S Jaishankar agrees with his Chinese counterpart that their country should not be stigmatised.
When a diplomatic spat between the US and China made world news in March, as Americans increasingly referred to coronavirus as the “China virus”, Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi reached out to India with the hope that New Delhi would not support such a classification. And then, according to the Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong, India’s Foreign Minister Jaishankar on 2 April agreed with Wang that this country should not call it “China virus”.