Let There Be Light

Love In the Time of Corona and Hate Virus

Delhi Riots and deadly virus: Will coronavirus be able to contain the more deadly hate-virus that has killed more people down the centuries across the globe

Will coronavirus be able to contain the more deadly hate-virus that has killed more people down the centuries across the globe than all microbes combined and is still widespread in our beloved motherland?

It is not exactly a great relief to see men-women and children with medical masks scurrying around to avoid infections. But it may be a welcome respite from the masked or hooded men baying for blood of their Other across the lane or road, shooting, stabbing or torching homes and shops in the name of Ram or Rahim. It is better than air and minds as well as cyber waves being perpetually poisoned with the war-cries of the ‘Goli-Maro’ gangs and their rivals.

At least, for a brief period, the global pandemic would force them to believe that ‘we the people’ breathe the same air irrespective of our mortal identity markers and will die the same death if the viruses, ‘natural’ and man-made are allowed to be spread more.

Certainly, it is a welcome reprieve from being forced to listen to nauseating speeches of the politicians who pretend to be statesmen above the communities but unmistakably reveal their shrewd self as they churn out their communal narratives buttressed by selective amnesia and sheer lies.

The Conspiracy theorists

It is yet to be ascertained whether the COVID-19 is a result of a conspiracy against Chinese economy or its government’s callousness, rather a disastrous combine of both, or a more far-reaching warning from the mother earth to us for our collective sins against her.

If we are to believe our home minister’s words on the floor of parliament, the proliferation of hate-virus and its resultant dance of death in our national capital last month was a conspiracy against India by our enemies and their fifth column.

The conspirators at courts down the history have always served megalomaniac and paranoid rulers who have been both vulnerable to and vectors of the contagions like hatred and mistrust. The formers have continued to play on the latter’s phobias in the modern age.

The communal contagions

For Amit Shah, it was certainly not an outcome of a sinister design of the Sangh Parivar. Although, many believe that it had unleashed the super-patriotic saffron folks who were out to punish the perceived enemies of Indian Reich, Muslims (who have replaced the Jews, the enemy of Aryan Volk in the original master’s scheme). Predictably, Shah also ruled out police complicity as the Opposition had stopped short of complaining about.

It was another matter, his ministry had called Delhi riot ‘spontaneous’ on the basis of ‘professional assessment’ a day after the outbreak. Probably, that was thought to be the safe alibi for the ‘outburst of pent-up public anger’ over traffic snarls following the proliferation of Shaheen Bagh- type dharnas against the regime’s newly passed CAA and its corollary projects of NRC-NPR in north-east Delhi. The spontaneity theory was meant to justify the triggers from by pro-regime ‘Goli Maro gangs’ led by BJP leaders and ministers since the Delhi poll campaigns.

But now the spin has changed to conspiracy theory, apparently because of American and international bad press and condemnnation from the UN-US bodies, despite Donald Trump’s generous support to his ‘buddy’ Modi during his recent trip when a part of Delhi was aflame.

The virus war

Shah shied from naming the foreign conspirators who allegedly had funded agent provocuteurs to defame India during Trump’s visit. But he claimed to have identified their key collaborators in India including their social media echo-chambers and thundered to bring them to justice from the ‘nether world’.

Apparently sharing a secret, Shah claimed that he had early intelligence of such scheme. But he did not bother to explain the government’s failure to nip it in the bud before the POTUS-FLOTUS flew in. Neither did he care to mention his own hate-speeches against Shaheen Bagh protests during Delhi polls and those of his party lieutenants even during Trump’s visit that had evidently added to the communal build up and the conflagration.

Further, he claimed that the violence had ended within 36 hours contrary to the reports from the ground that pointed to its continuity for double the period and refused to accept the charges of police failure, let alone his own ineptitude and callousness. Instead, he put all the blames on Congress president, Sonia Gandhi albeit without naming her, for engineering Shaheen Bagh sit-in. For him, the riot was the consequences of the street protests against the religiously divisive citizenship matrix.

The breeders and pathologists

What Shah did not say explicitly, was made so by his party MPs who named cut all Muslims, Opposition politicians from AAP to AIMIM paste here, as instigators while defending the foulmouthed men from saffron brotherhood or ducking the similar charges against them. This is what the BJP spokespersons had been doing on the TV shows for last two weeks.

The party MPs did not spare the former Delhi High Court judge S Murlidhar for daring to ask Delhi police to file FIR against four BJP leaders for their hate-speeches. One of them claimed that an intelligence report was behind the judge’s midnight transfer, albeit without naming him.

Clearly, the MP was not supposed to be privy to the IB report. Same was the fate of the Supreme Court –appointed interlocutors to Shaheen Bagh as one of them was described as close to Kasmiri militants.

Why the courts are allowing the anti-CAA-NRC street protests to continue, was the cumulative grudge of the ruling side. The message is simple: anybody inside or outside the system who differs with us or crosses our path is our enemy or its agent. Either you enjoy a ride on our steamroller or you will be crushed under it. Particularly, at the time of virus wars, the pathologists who dare to examine the breeders of malignancy too much closely will die.

The benign subterfuge

Shah described 52 (so far recorded) victims of the riot as ‘Indians’ while declining to divide them by their religions and showed sympathy to their bereaved families. But his inclusive pretensions, with pauses to create the poignancy inside the parliament sounded more chilling than his exclusionary epithets against Muslims outside since Muzaffarnagar.

After all, like almost all viruses, hate-virus too can take a benign form in certain situation, only to strike back in its full strength at opportune moments.

All malignancies must be fought together

Being in a plagued land, no one can play an outsider. But the ongoing pandemic of hate-crimes can’t be allowed to change our social DNA, however fragile. If the Opposition parties are infected with same kind of microbes but of opportunist hues, the fight will be worthless.

It is regrettable that most of them failed to reach out to affected people and unite them against all forms of hate-virus. The fact remains that both Hindus and Muslims have died horribly, no matter whose number is higher or who attacked first. One malignancy can’t be fought with another, whether foreign-inspired or local, bred by frustration or revenge.

One need not be politically correct in this trying time. But we the people of world and India can afford the derailment of the popular resistance against both the pandemics only at our common peril. Civil society groups in Delhi and elsewhere should unite among themselves to be each other’s force multiplier in spreading public awareness and effective resistance rather than to become petty competitors before it is too late. Meanwhile, all of us should join our hands to save the flickers of hope for humanity who stood by their neighbors of other denominations risking their own lives in Delhi to Shillong.

Biswajit Roy

is Consultant Editor with eNewsroom India. He reports on major news developments as well as writes political pieces on national and Bengal politics and social-cultural issues.

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