Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Hatred and Buck Passing in a Post COVID-19 World

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Image - The New Leam

As India is undergoing the third phase of lockdown due to novel coronavirus, people are quite sure about a completely different/altered  post-corona world. As the virus has affected people in almost every country. People across the world are going through a situation which no one had experienced before.

A complete sense of isolation from everyday engagement with the public sphere. Everyone is waiting for retuning back to normalcy. Some are optimistic, some are worried, and some do not even have a point to worry or be optimistic. In some sense it is true and it possibly is going to happen, the world will be an entirely different place post-corona. People will think  twice before shaking hands with a stranger or even a known person, people may stop hugging in the public space, movie theatres might see a fall in the number of people coming to watch a movie, public parties, meetings and conferences will not be the same as it used to be and most importantly the role of religion in an individual’s life will be questioned on one hand and maybe the belief in a supernatural power will increase on the other, being neutral is not working anymore.

No one knows the extent to which the economy will suffer in the coming days. Maybe from a generalised point of view, we can predict that the future or the post corona world will become more science-oriented, more technological where everything from the classroom to the workspace, from the temple to the marketplace will be controlled and run by gadgets and machines and the human presence will become limited.

Although the world would have drastically changed in a post-corona situation, what will remain unchanged is the human nature. And more specifically people’s tendency to nurture and thrive on hatred. From being racist, sexist to Islamophobic, everything will remain the same. From Donald Trump describing Corona Virus as a Chinese virus and Indian media describing Tablighi-Jamaat as the reason for the spread of the virus by bringing in the bio-terror perspective, all these examples explain the extent to which the idea of hatred is existing in the society.
Specifically taking the case of India, on-screen, and off-screen the slogan ‘we are all together in this’ exists, but practically it is not there. The country had witnessed a brutal policing system last December at Jamia Millia Islamia, even today some students are going through post violence trauma. But interestingly during each phase of the Corona lockdown period, the government authorities were busy hunting innocent students who came out to protest a law that is completely against the Constitution of India. Erasing the art created by students on the walls of Jamia Millia Islamia was the first move. There is nothing new about this because erasing the intensity of brutality and erasing the evidence of violence was always part of the ruling establishment’s plans.

The active presence of the ‘Saffron body’ in the virtual world irrespective of class is very much visible during this Lockdown period. This Saffron body is the tool used by the Modi government even during the pandemic period to spread the venom of hatred, to increase the intensity of attacking Muslims.

Tablighi Jamaat
Police register FIR against Tablighi Jamaat preacher; Centre declares Markaz a hotspot. Image Source – Twitter [file photo]
The portrayal of the Tablighi Jamaat meeting as the reason for the spread of Corona was the first move to communalise the pandemic with added support from various media houses.

Even though the government repeats every day that we are together in this, the seed of hatred is already planted. Now post corona anti CAA protests will be for sure different because even liberals washed their hands without understanding the depth of the issue. As a liberal friend recently said, now no one will support ‘Muslims’ for this CAA protest, you (Muslims) should have taken care of the Tablighi Jamaat conference and the people.

The more interesting thing was his further question, “why do Muslims always jump into trouble?” But the point is, it’s not Muslims jumping into trouble every day but the government and the majority in this country which is trying to frame the community in bad light.

Analyzing some of the recent incidents which took place during the Corona period will give better clarity. The recent Palghar incident is a very good example of the same. Two seers were mob lynched. Initially, the news was that Muslims lynched these two people but later when the ministry made public the names of 101 people involved in the lynching, there was not even a single Muslim. While everything under the sky was used to make it a communal issue but this couldn’t be made to reach its destination.
The Twitter post by Rangoli and later support for the same by her sister and actor Kangana, wrestler Babita Phoghat clearly explain to what extent the ‘Saffron body’ in the virtual world spreads the hatred and the route that the country heading towards. The arrest of Sharjeel Imam and later of Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar related to Jamia Milia Islamia protest shows how the government is intolerant towards genuine dissent. Suppressing the voices by arrest is not going to last long. Whoever speaks against the government is arrested today. It would not be wrong to say that much more dangerous than the corona itself, will be the politics centred around hatred and suppression of dissent. But are we doing enough to end the politics of hatred?

Thafseer Ummer is pursuing his Ph.D. at CSSEIP/Jamia Millia Islamia.