EVEN as the nation stands together in the great com bat against coronavirus, some sections of the larger Indian society are showing absolute insensitivity towards the issue of extreme seriousness. They are refusing to follow the principle of social distancing and voluntary isolation which the nation has accepted by agreeing to stay indoors. Though a happy spectacle is available across the country of people choosing to stay indoors and opting to step out only when extremely essential, some sections -- mostly belonging to a minority community -- are violating the common understanding brazenly citing reasons of faith.
This conduct of certain sections is proving to be a thorn in the larger society’s flesh -- which is very unfortunate and reprehensible! Most exemplary, in sharp contrast, is the collective behaviour of the country’s majority community that agreed to shun the massive celebrations usually and historically in evidence during the Ram Navaratri festival. In the past some weeks, the country did see ugly spectacles of some sections of the larger Indian society refusing to abide by the norm of day -- social distancing. They refused to withdraw their political agitation at Shaheenbagh in Delhi. They also refused to avoid gatherings in public places while protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and provisions such as the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens.
And to make matters appear more brazen, they continued gathering on streets in thousands for their weekly prayers when the overall Indian society has chosen not to stir out of homes no matter what. When things went out of hand, the Government sent Police force in the night to whisk away the protesters in Shaheenbagh and uproot their huge pandals and clear the public road that they had blocked for more than a hundred days.
The latest example of that compelled the Government to use force was in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area where a congregation of Tablighi Jamaat saw thousands of people gathering for a stated religious purpose. Many among that gathering were from foreign countries. The fallout of the Nizamuddin incident was serious: The Government identified hundreds of the people in that gathering of having invited coronavirus infection. A couple of thousands of that gathering have been sent to quarantine facilities at various places. The Police are carrying out a nationwide hunt to identify further who attended the gathering and if they became victims or suspects of coronavirus infection. This entire development has a dirty dimension which the country will now be suffering from for a long time.
The people or the Government have no issues with protests which are integral to any democratic polity. The trouble, however, is that the protesters -- or even the religious devotees -- refused to see sense in the appeal for restraint under the given situation in which community’s health has come under cloud. Much to the contrary, evidence is now available to prove that the leaders of the religious gathering or of protesters continued assuring the followers that gods would protect them from the infection and that they need not withdraw from the event.
Another dirty aspect of the development is that the leaders in both cases continued to unleash dirty abuses and uncouth curses on Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. Looking at these details, it becomes necessary to caution the people who indulged in such a brazen conduct about the malevolent aspect of their conduct. They are serving no good cause by such a conduct. It appears, they are trying to push an element of senseless political conflict into the national narrative. In the long run, the nation will reject them if they do not see sense.