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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Authorities look the other way or ‘relax’ lockdowns ahead of Eid

While Bharat is in the grip of the deadly second wave of the pandemic, the nation’s Muslims are gearing up to celebrate the festival of Eid-al-Fitr today, which marks the end of Ramzan, the month of fasting.

Most states either have lockdowns in place or severe restrictions on public gathering, so one would have expected authorities to ban public celebrations during Eid, and issue notices warning of action like they did while banning Holi celebrations even with private housing societies.

But such is the beauty of the modern secular Indian Republic that the entire frame of reference, from laws to socio-political conventions, magically change when the question is related to minorities, especially Muslims and Christians.

So open flouting of a lockdown in Telangana invites no censure from government, police or courts.

Even in the state of UP, currently ruled by a ‘ultra-fascist Hindu nationalist’ if one were to believe the Sadanand Dhumes of the world, lockdown has been ‘relaxed’ for the all-important festival, that too in the parliamentary constituency of the nation’s PM.

Now, take your mind back to the once-in-12-years Kumbh Mela festival which kicked off before the second wave had set in. There, authorities had prepared for weeks on exact procedures to be followed, a negative RT-PCR test was mandated for all pilgrims, medical teams were deployed across the Mela area to screen and sanitize.

Testing of over 2 lakh people between 10 and 14 April (peak attendance time for the festival), revealed a test positvity rate of just 0.9%, lower even than the 3.7% the entire state of Uttarakhand reported at the time, showing that the curbs and measures put in place had worked to prevent the spread of the virus at the festival venue. Yet, due to rising cases elsewhere in the country and the PM’s intervention, the Mela was ended early on 17 April.

Still, the Kumbh Mela was defamed nationally and internationally as THE ‘super-spreader’ event responsible for the second wave of the pandemic!

But when it comes to Muslim rallies demanding beheading of a Hindu saint, Muslim funerals, or mass prayers and shopping for a Muslim festival, all organs of our ‘secular’ state look the other way with a nod and a wink. And neither does our English-language media or that of our Western ‘allies’ feel obliged to flood their readers with images of thronging crowds and sensational headlines shaming an entire community.

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