Congratulations, the UK! I am proud of you. Here is the difference between how the ISKON Hindu temple gathering is reported in the UK versus how the Tablighi shrine gathering is being reported in India.
So here is the first story: The ISKON UK Hindu temple organises a religious gathering on 12th March, with over a thousand worshippers, in Central London, several die due to COVID and several are infected.
How does the UK media treat UK’s minority?:
It does not scapegoat its minority. It does not claim that the Hindus are conspiring against the UK; it does not call it CoronaTerrorism; it does not arrest thousands; it does not run the story continuously for weeks distracting attention away from any proper policy analysis or information in the UK; it does not spread fake news and doctored videos of Hindus spitting on doctors or harassing the nurses; it does not call people gathered as ‘hiding’ in the temple. The news stories are not dedicated to generating mass hysteria against its minority. You can’t even find the story on Google anymore.
I am really proud of it, and that’s how it should be. However, the irony should not be lost. Otherwise, we wilfully ignore racism. Some do because they benefit from it. I won’t because I am at risk everywhere for being a minority.
So, the same, small and very wealthy lobby of the Hindu donors, who are invested in image laundering in the UK and the USA, to protect the community from xenophobia, do the exact opposite in India.
So, here is story number two: In India, the Tablighi shrine organises a religious gathering on 13-15 March, a full week before the lockdown. They made a huge mistake, just as ISKON did at the same time in the UK. The BJP-Sanghi supremacist media has gone on an overdrive to scapegoat Muslims, calling it CoronaJihad, arresting thousands and producing thousands of fake videos to demonise its socio-economically largely marginalised and lower caste minority. Suddenly the news of the 3,000 Tablighi Muslims hindering the COVID war in India is global. It is in newsfeeds everywhere.
It also diverts attention away from the fact that 40,000 Hindu worshippers were gathered in Tirupati temple even on 19 March; over 100,000 labourers have been stranded in many metropolitan cities in an overcrowded situation, and millions of people live in dense slums. Since the lockdown, several prominent leaders, belonging to the powerful party have organised weddings, and political ceremonies, inviting thousands.
The first case in India was reported in January. Still, we had hundreds of thousands gathered in the huge stadium to celebrate Trump (luckily, he did not get lynched for eating cows all his life) in India, where hundreds of foreigners were present. This was just over two weeks before the Tablighi shrine event. We signed a three-billion dollar arms deal just as the COVID pandemic was unfolding globally, rather invest in the life-saving health services, PPE or economic packages for the labourers who lost their daily wages. We also did nothing for three days as over 2,000 goons ran amock in Delhi destroying the lives, homes, and livelihoods of socio-economically deprived Muslims at the end of February. This is all in the midst of COVID, at the end of February.
However, none of these is reported as “superspreader”, that tag is dedicated to just that one shrine where 3,000 people were gathered. Selective testing, ideological coverage, and foreign-funded hateful reporting, even at this time, when we should be seeing each other as human beings and working together to protect each other, as the guests of this planet. So, sorry if I am not the one buying into the theatrics. My real respect for our health and public services lies here: against the politics of hatred, exclusion and violence promoted by the 1% who are funding pain and suffering to the whole of humanity and Mother Earth, and scapegoating ordinary people.