The New York Times is building a false narrative around Muslims in India in the time of Coronavirus
The article’s attempt to string together disparate events and statements ends up falling flat when it comes to facts
n an article published on April 12 with the headline ‘In India, Coronavirus Fans Religious Hatred’, The New York Times says that Muslims have been targeted in a wave of violence after Indian officials blamed an Islamic group for spreading the virus.
IndiavsDisinformation.com goes through the main points raised in the article and counters them pointwise.
After India’s health ministry repeatedly blamed an Islamic seminary for spreading the coronavirus — and governing party officials spoke of “human bombs” and “corona jihad” — a spree of anti-Muslim attacks has broken out across the country.
To begin with, the article itself goes on to admit that “there’s an element of truth behind the government’s claims”. A single Muslim religious movement has been identified as being responsible for a large share of India’s 8,000-plus coronavirus cases, it says, quoting Indian government officials.
Coming back to the point that the article tries to make about “a spree of anti-Mulsim attacks”, it has references to some isolated incidents across the vast expanse that is India. Action has been initiated after each of these incidents. Three persons were arrested after assaulting a Muslim man in a village on Delhi’s outskirts on April 5; Gurgaon Police arrested six persons following a similar incident the next day. Police registered a criminal case after an attack on a group of Muslims in Bengaluru.
That the government is committed to ensuring communal harmony is evident from the warning issued by Chief Ministers of several states. India Today quoted Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa as telling a regional media channel: "Nobody should speak a word against Muslims. This is a warning. If anyone blames the entire Muslim community for some isolated incident, I'll take action against them also without a second thought. Will not allow that to happen."
From the crackdown on Kashmir, a Muslim majority area, to a new citizenship law that blatantly discriminates against Muslims, this past year has been one low point after another for Indian Muslims living under an increasingly bold Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and propelled by majoritarian policies.
The authors of the article attempt to use two earlier policy decisions to support the false narrative that they try to build.
What is being referred to as a crackdown on Kashmir was a series of measures to maintain peace and security following the abrogation of Article 370 which gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the order to change it to a Union Territory (UT).
On the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, better known as CAA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking in Parliament on February 6, announced that no Indian's citizenship would be affected due to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), including Muslims.
"I want to clarify it to my 130 crore Indians. The CAA will not have any effect on any religious community -- be it Hindu, Muslim, Sikhs or Christians," he was quoted as saying.
Muslim leaders are afraid. They see the intensifying attacks against Muslims and remember what happened in February, when Hindu mobs rampaged in a working-class neighborhood in Delhi, killing dozens, and the police mostly stood aside — or sometimes even helped the Hindu mobs.
Calling the Delhi violence in February an attack against Muslims is a distortion of facts.
According to official records, over 20 of the 52 people killed belonged to the Hindu community. The violence in Delhi in February was part of a “well-planned conspiracy”, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had provided details of what police investigations had come up with during his statement in Parliament on March 11. Three people who financed the riots were arrested by Delhi Police. Two persons affiliated with ISIS were also held for stoking communal violence
In addition to a Delhi Police constable, young IB sleuth had also lost his life while several senior officers were seriously injured in their attempt to control the mob violence. This would not have happened if the force was siding with the rioting mobs.
Some Hindu nationalist politicians and their supporters seized on the situation, eagerly piling on the anti-Muslim sentiments that have been building in recent years under Mr. Modi’s government. Raj Thackeray, the leader of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, a far-right nationalist party, told local news outlets that Tablighi Jamaat members “should be shot.”
Quoting Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray to buttress the claims made in the article seems like a clear case of clutching at straws. While he is indeed reported to have made the statement attributed to him by The New York Times, that the party has only one member in the 288-seat Maharashtra Legislative Assembly shows the lack of sway he has over the people of the state.
On April 5, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray warned of stern action against those creating communal disharmony. At the same time, Mumbai Police began investigating the source of hate videos and audio clips circulating on social media.