Participating in a virtual seminar, Gagan Sethi, chair, Janvikas, Ahmedabad said that the Covid-19 response has brought into sharp focus how deep has communal virus seeped into the psyche across the country. Suggesting that this is not a new phenomenon, Sethi, who is a Dalit rights activist and a gender trainer, said, 2002 Gujarat riots were a turning point when one saw even children began shouting slogans to eliminate Muslims.
Pointing towards how this psyche has been created, Sethi said, Hinduism, as of today, has been converted into a tool of hate, and if one has to be identified as a Hindu, one should hate Muslims. Intolerance and violence dominate under this psyche. One is led to seriously believe that Islam and Muslims need to be eradicated. The seminar was organized by Delhi-based human rights organization Anhad and discussed “Communalism in India.”
Noting that Dalit discrimination has already been there, and continues even today, Sethi said, the communal virus differs, in that here hate towards a community takes a totally new, qualitative change, something that the civil society needs to understand and internalize. Worse, the hate psyche has led to a situation where Muslims are getting increasingly pauperized.
Giving his own experience on how the hate psyche is working amidst the Covid-19 crisis, Sethi said, he was pleasantly surprised when young volunteers associated with Janpath called up to say that DCP, Zone 5, Ahmedabad, Ravi Teja, wanted to talk to him. On meeting the DCP, he was told that in Zone 5 there were 5,000 migrants, of whom 4,800 were Muslims, but no organization was ready to feed them. This was taken up by Janvikas by helping set up self-run kitchens.
Click HERE for the full, 45-minute Sethi intervention on May 7.