The Wuhan virus pandemic has uprooted the lives of the not-so-privileged across the country. Those at the bottom of the economic pyramid have been hurt rather badly and every day is a battle in itself—for them the virus is a viable alternative compared to the hardship they are facing otherwise. But there is another facet to their struggle, especially the Muslims—the small-time Muslim vendor or worker that are now being ostracized, all because of some of its community’s hoodlum members and their buffoonery. After stories of spitting, licking, and urinating by some bad apples who had sinister intentions, Muslim vendors are going jobless.
The Tablighi Jamaat episode has left a sour memory in everybody’s mind across the country. It has been reported that if the ominous event would not have occurred, the deadly respiratory virus could have been nipped in the bud much earlier.
The Jamaati’s travelled across the country, spreading the virus to those coming in contact, and even when they were nabbed (hundreds are still on the loose), the majority of them indulged in the most deranged and despicable behaviour with the emergency personnel.
Doctors were demonized, spit on, hit by the mobs and in some cases, the nurses were subjected to sexually predatory behaviour. Even the police in many instances were subjected to violence. The malevolent creatures mistreated everybody around by hampering the medical services and shaped an image that the particular community is out to de-rail India’s chances to mitigate the pandemic.
There have been reports and rumours of Muslim vegetable vendors spitting or urinating on vegetables and in some cases they have been caught and a public spectacle has been made out of the situation. This has created serious fears among the normal, unsuspecting populace which wants to stay on the safe side when it comes to COVID-19 risks and some have even decided never to purchase vegetables or other such goods from Muslim vendors.
As a result, the curse of Jamaati’s behavior has befallen upon the Muslim vendors who have become ‘the collateral damage’. The honest hardworking Muslim vendor or worker is being ostracized all because of the Jamaati’s inanity. Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to not make the Wuhan virus a communal issue, the sheer number of cases of Tablighi Jamaat has shaped up a mentality where the Muslims are being eyed as a potential hazard.
Consequently, the non-Muslims have put their guard up. The RWA’s are sealing colonies, streets are being cordoned off and on an off chance, if a Muslim vendor comes there selling his commodities to earn a living, he/she is subjected to tough interrogation and has to cope a lot of abuse which in the end renders him jobless.
News reports had emerged earlier that five vegetable sellers in Mahoba district were ‘abused’ and ‘stopped’ from selling vegetables because they were Muslims. The Mahoba incident traces its roots to the hatred spread after the Tablighi Jamaat event as one of the vendors said that the group was accused of spreading coronavirus and that they were Jamaati’s.
A video of a Muslim vendor washing vegetables in sewer water created panic among buyers no so long ago. Many such videos of people confronting vendors have come out.
As if the ostracization of a single community was not enough, some frivolous elements indulged in racism too. In March, a 40-year-old man was arrested in Delhi for spitting paan on 25-year-old Manipuri woman and calling her ‘corona’.
Then again in Mumbai, another 23-year old Manipuri woman became the victim of one Amir Mohammed Elias of Mumbai who spit on the woman. He was arrested by the police but the sheer hatred and vice of some people is enough for us to bow our heads in shame.
The stupidity is met by even more stupidity when Saffron flags and Hindu names are demonized and it is done by none other than some shrewd Muslims who are trying to manufacture communal tension in the times of a global pandemic.
The Tablighi’s have done a lot of damage to the Muslim community and its small-time workers. The COVID-19 situation is already chaotic, to say the least, and when 1.3 billion population of a country goes under lockdown for over a month—it is bound to create some hurting edges. In such a state of affairs, society as a whole needs to step up with a little more empathy than ever.
Hindu or Muslim, the poor is always the one that bears the maximum heat and while we engage in the blame game over social media echo chambers–a poor vegetable seller, irrespective of his religion goes out in the searing heat every day to earn some nickels for merely surviving amidst a global catastrophe.