Award-winning author Arundhati Roy accused the Indian government on Friday of exploiting the coronavirus in a tactic reminiscent of the one used by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
“The whole of the organization, the RSS to which Modi belongs, which is the mother ship of the BJP, has long said that India should be a Hindu nation. Its ideologues have likened the Muslims of India to the Jews of Germany. And if you look at the way in which they are using COVID-19, it was very much like typhus was used against the Jews to get ghettoize them, to stigmatize them,” Roy told DW News in a special interview.
Roy who is vocal against Narendra Modi’s government also said that this strategy on the part of the Hindu nationalist government would dovetail with this illness to create something which the world should really keep its eyes on.
“The situation is approaching genocidal,” Man Booker Prize winner Roy observed.
Many rights activists, Muslim organizations and students accused the BJP government and argued that the ongoing lockdown to fight COVID-19 has become an opportunity for the police to track down and arrest the Muslim youths.
“The victimized Muslims are being accused, arrested and kept in judicial custody even amidst the present COVID-19 scenario. The youth including students who were a part of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests are consciously being targeted,” Ameen Hassan , a young lawyer who was associated in legal activities for the victims of Delhi pogrom earlier wrote in Maktoob.
“This crisis of hatred against Muslims comes on the back of a massacre in Delhi, which was the result of people protesting against the anti-Muslim citizenship law. Under the cover of COVID-19 the government is moving to arrest young students, to fight cases against lawyers, against senior editors, against activists and intellectuals. Some of them have recently been put in jail,” she added.
“We are suffering, not just from COVID, but from a crisis of hatred, from a crisis of hunger. I think what has happened is COVID-19 has exposed things about India that all of us knew,” Roy told DW News.
The arrests of two Jamia Millia Islamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar have also triggered protests in the student community.
“After the peaceful withdrawal of the anti-CAA protest by Jamia students in the wake of the global Corona Virus pandemic, the Delhi Police has begun a retaliatory revengeful action against those who were active in this movement,” activists said in a joint statement.
On 14 April, the police arrested Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha, two rights activists who have been critics of India’s BJP government policies.
The police allege that these activists support a Maoist insurgency and at a large public rally on December 31, 2017, they incited Dalits to violence, leading to clashes with supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the following day. One person died and several were injured. However, the charges filed by police cite flimsy evidence and raise serious concerns that the investigations were politically motivated. Two retired judges, who say they were the “main organizers and sole funders” of the rally, have said that most of the activists arrested in the case had nothing to do with the event.
“Indian authorities are using draconian counterterrorism laws against activists simply for criticizing the government or raising their voices against injustice,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch.