There is significant lockdown at the global level to halt the march of Coronavirus. The whole world is in grim after the un-tackled situation of Italy, the US and other countries to contain the virus. The confirmed number of cases worldwide is around 800000, where the death toll is near to 35000. In India also, the situation is not very favourable as the disease is spreading and the country is running with the high chance of community transmission. Amid of growing concern, several addresses were also made by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi where he asks people to be patient and to maintain social distancing. Though the situation is critical, it’s unfortunate to see there are people in the country who are keeping their “FAITH” and “RELIGIOUS EGO” above everything, rather than considering it as a humanitarian crisis.
On March 30, 2020, six people from Telangana who attended a religious congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin died due to COVID 19. The reaches of transmission is not only limited to Delhi but spreading its wing in other states as well. The people who attended the congregation found positive in Kashmir, Andhra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu too. The religious congregation which was not conducted with the prior permission of authority now endangered the lives of millions and illegally included the delegates from Malaysia and Indonesia also. Some days ago, an Infosys employee Mujeeb Mohammed, who has a history of sharing a content that is sensitive to other religious community, arrested by the police to provoke Muslims for spreading the virus among the population. In his post, he said “let’s join hands, go out and sneeze with open mouth in public. Spread the virus”.
Not lately, on March 26, 2020, when due to lockdown temples & Gurudwaras were closed in that time a large number of Muslim people gathered in Karnataka’s Mosque to offer the prayers, left the only option with police to do lathi charge against the people violating the law. Previously on March 24, 2020, the trustee of Sunni Muslim Shafi Masjid was booked by the police of Nagpada (Maharashtra) for curbing the norms and organising a gathering of 100 to 150 people. In similar lines, on March 27, 2020, the Maulvi of Gulmisra Mosque (Vadodara) also arrested for offering Friday prayers in congregation at the mosque. In addition to all, recent viral audio of Tablighi Jamaat organiser Maulana Saad allegedly directing the people to go and read the Namaz was surfaced. According to the audio, he considers it as the best time to ask for Allah’s forgiveness. To consolidate, after the statement of Waseem Rizvi, the chairman of UP Shia Waqf Board where he suspected it as a thoughtful act to blow the virus, it’s prominent to the world that the recent episode is not an issue of negligence rather than deliberate step by the organiser to use the masses for the spread.
The Shaheen Bagh episode is not an exception and deserves mention here. The women who were sitting in the protest against CAA was not ready to end the agitation and having a strong believe that if no one gets infected by corona. And if it’s spread over them, its means they are sinned and need to be pious by attending more such protests. After the various attempt, police succeeded to clear the site as they are imposing a threat to the health of others.
However, these series of incidents not only indicates towards their unconditional blind faith for Islam but somewhere shows how these folks are keeping there “RELIGIOUS IDENTITY AND EGO” above humanity. Very sadly, it reflects there is no value of human lives in front of some human-made religious narratives. According to Al-Naba newsletter, the Islamic State are applauding the spread of Corona virus. They have a strong belief that it was sent by Allah and the pandemic taking the world to the day of Judgement. According to ISIS, “Coronavirus is a Punishment from God, Urges attacks against non-Muslims: Use this opportunity to strike them with a sword or a knife or even a rope is enough to stop their Breath.” Jihadi’s also using it for the manifestation of God’s law against the non-believer Muslims. They argued that fighting as a Jihad soldier is the surest way to get protection against the virus. At the different platforms of communication, the terror group referring it as a way of punishment to our western style of living.
Global studies also point out towards the emergence of conspiracy theories in the period of crisis. The impact produced by the virus seems to be the most favourable condition for the spread of such conspiracy theories. Many Islamic terror groups called them Jihadists, are seeing it as an opportunity to using it against their perceived enemies. Their follower told to increase the attacks as most of the government are focusing on combating with COVID 19. The attack on Afghanistan Gurudwara is a recent example of their propaganda that the Corona virus outbreak is directed by Allah to assist them in their terror activities.
However given the intensifying impact of Corona virus, where the number of death toll increasing day by day, shaking the stock market badly and plunging the growth perspective for all countries to its lowest. There is a high chance that the extremist terrorist group can use this weapon to further worsen the situation by accelerating the local transmission to community transmission of the virus. Last year, the James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation in their report mentioned that Islamic terrorist might use infected human to spread a contagious disease. In addition to this, the use of biological weapon requires limited technical knowhow and the cost is minimum. Although it’s very premature to draw any conclusion from the recent episode of religious gathering in Nizamuddin Mosque somewhere, it pointed a spike towards its usage as a BIOLOGICAL WEAPON to magnify the result. More than 30 people tested positive and nine people linked to the event at Nizamuddin Markaz have died. The congregation involves gathering of almost 8000 people. Some of them are still not traced, reached into different part of a country and risking a life of millions.
To conclude, we need to realise that it’s a tough time for a country, where we all need to unite against the invisible enemy. Dividing society based on the religious ground will only make us weaker. It’s essential to sense that the virus is not going to pick us on religion lines and we all have an equal probability of being infected by the same. The need of the hour is to keep our religious identity aside and understand a simple thing that humanity is above all the religion.
(The writer is Assistant Professor, Lakshmibai College, University of Delhi)