• Ankuran Dutta

#CheckTheFake-3: nCoronavirus is secular


April 3, 2020:

When the entire world is gripped into COVID-19 pandemic, the social media users in India waste no time to give it a communal colour.

It started with the Nizammuddin Tablighi Jamaat event in New Delhi that has recently emerged into an epicenter of coronavirus outbreak.

The event attended by around 3,400 people in early March is now linked to the sudden rise in COVID-19 positive cases by over 400 in the past 24 hours.

According to the latest information on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s website, the total number of active novel coronavirus cases in the country stands at 1,764, while the death tally rises to 50.

Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary to the Home Ministry in a media briefing on COVID-19 situation on Thursday said, “As many as 9,000 Tablighi Jamaat workers have been quarantined; out of which 1306 are identified as foreigners”.

‘Coronajihad’ was one of the top trending topics on Twitter Tuesday. Along with this, many statements from top leaders, especially from the ruling party linking the irresponsible act of the attendees to a conspiracy against Hindu majoritarian took the social media by storm.

In no time, there started a blame-game from all sections, be it from the political parties or media sections trying to prove Nizammuddin as a scapegoat, while counting the spaces of large congregation in observation starting from Ram Navami to gatherings at a Gurudwara in New Delhi by the so called ‘liberals’ played the defense role.

In the midst of all this, there arose some serious questions that reflects the local intelligence lapse, failure on the part of district administration and the state government of New Delhi. Even the Prime Minister’s announcement of 21-day lockdown on March 24 that too 13 days after WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic escaped their failure to understand the seriousness of this virus. And this was proved when Union home ministry told Indians on March 13 that it wasn’t a “health emergency yet”.

The social media users went mad over the injection of religion into the virus by simply creating an atmosphere of communal politics to take the hold over in this crisis situation. Many users started to bring back the issues of the controversial law Citizenship Amendment Act 2016 by posting #support against the #AntiCAA and #ProCorona, #ThrowbackTheOutsiders, etc.

#CheckTheFake on COVID-19

FAKE: #CoronaJihad is an opportunity for Indian Muslims to exploit the pandemic.

FACT: There is no such term as ‘CoronaJihad’ and it is used on Twitter for the first time to exploit the opportunity of sowing seeds of communal politics in this crisis. Moreover, the Muslim population will also be vulnerable to this virus if they rely on faulty medical or health information and religious extremisms (According to a British researcher, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, who is a specialist on the Syrian Civil War, Iraqi Civil War and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

#CheckTheFake is a movement against #Infodemic in this crisis, initiated by Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust #ARMT (www.armt.in) in collaboration with The Assam Tribune and Northeast Now (www.nenow.in) to create awareness on #fakenews on #Coronavirus and improve media literacy through #Cartoons.

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