The biggest threat emanating out of the COVID-19 outbreak in India is, of course, the ongoing anti-CAA protests especially the Shaheen Bagh blockade. While social distancing is accepted as the need of the hour across the world, these protests offer prolific ground for the Wuhan infection to take the shape of an absolute disaster in India.
Now, in a major scare, The Print has reported that one of the organisers of anti-CAA protests in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri has undergone a test for COVID-19 after his sister tested positive for the China-made virus. The organiser’s sister tested positive after returning from Saudi Arabia on March 11. She has visited the Gulf country for the Umrah pilgrimage. The organiser met his sister on March 13 upon her return from Saudi Arabia.
What should worry us is the fact that the man has admitted visiting the protest site “a couple of times” after meeting her infected sister. The sister tested positive a couple of days after their meeting. Soon, the organiser also started showing symptoms and is currently in quarantine at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital in the National Capital.
It is very much possible that he was asymptomatic when he visited the Jahangirpuri protest site. Though his results are still awaited, but the prospect of his having carried the virus to the protest site itself is quite scary, as it can lead to a major trigger in the spread of virus, paving way for community transmission of the Wuhan virus within India.
The organiser said, “There are about 400-450 people at the protest site, a majority of whom are women.”
If he tests positive for COVID-19, then the entire protest site would have also most likely become the hotbed of the infection, creating a major crisis. This should set the alarm bells ringing for the Modi government.
Shaheen Bagh protests in Delhi, a major illegal blockade going on since the month of December should come immediately on the radar of Delhi Police. This is the single biggest threat to Delhi in the context of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
More than 500 agitators sitting in close vicinity of each other have been continuously suggesting that they are ready to get infected by Coronavirus in their fight against the CAA. One of the protesters said, “We have to fight the coronavirus as well as the CAA. The CAA and the NRC are more dangerous than the coronavirus so we will continue our fight. We won’t withdraw the protest amid fear of getting infected.”
This reeks of borderline fidayeen mentality- they are ready to get infected but it will, in turn, cause a major public health emergency, infecting many others along with them. This is nothing less than an epidemic Jihad- the first of its kind that we might be witnessing.
Beyond Shaheen Bagh, there are hundreds of such protests and blockades, all modelled on the Shaheen Bagh roadblock that have cropped up across the country. With the Coronavirus outbreak hitting several parts of India, every single anti-CAA protest becomes a disaster in waiting and not just Delhi, but every major city in India might be at threat.
The Modi government must take cognizance of the momentous threat posed by the Shaheen Bagh outbreak. A single ‘Patient 31’ had failed to isolate herself in the nick of time in South Korea. Today, eighty per cent of the 8,652 cases in the country are attributed to ‘Patient 31’. Now, imagine the kind of damage that hundreds of protesters can cause to a nation of 133 billion if they were to get infected with the novel Wuhan virus.
Holding a dialogue with such outfits organising illegal blockades is of no avail, the Modi government must disperse them with the aid of security forces and must do so immediately.
Today, we are analysing what went wrong in China or Italy or currently in the United Kingdom, but if timely action is not taken we would become a subject of analysis.
Any amount of force necessary to disperse the protests should be employed. The protests are a living threat to public health and immediate disbandment is the only solution.