India is currently experiencing a massive second wave of Covid-19 and has now crossed a horrendous number of 3.14 lakh cases in a single day, overtaking Brazil to become the second-most affected country globally by the coronavirus. According to the Health Ministry of India, 3,32,921 confirmed cases were reported on April 22, with a total of 1,86,920 people who have lost their lives in the battle of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is disconcerting that India is yet to see the peak of the second wave, which is expected to hit us in the month of May.
The impact of the pandemic is clearly visible across the country, with bodies piling up in crematoriums and long queues of ambulances outside hospitals. It is disheartening to see that people are locked inside their homes, and the poor man is left on the street and also treated violently by the police for the violation of COVID-19 Rules. On the other side, many people, including the Representatives of our Country, are conducting political rallies and have completely turned a blind eye to the pandemic.
Kumbh: a Superspreader
“Religion is the opium of the masses” was rightly said by Karl Marx. On April 13, over 35 lakh pilgrims gathered at the bank of river Ganga to take the holy dip in Kumbh Mela, Haridwar. While other states are declaring night curfews or lockdowns, pilgrims in Uttarakhand are gathering in masses to celebrate the famous Hindu festival Kumbh Mela which is celebrated once in every 12 years. Uttarakhand’s CM gave an illogical statement saying,“ Kumbh is at the bank of the river Ganga, and Maa Ganga’s blessings will protect us.”
It is true that no one should be deprived of their freedom of religion (Article 25), but it should not impact the Right to Health of others which is an intrinsic part of the Right to Life (Article 21). Recently, the Uttarakhand Govt published an order permitting not more than 200 people to attend religious, political and any social events but exempting the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Haridwar from the order and extending the night curfew hours for all-district. This order is a violation of Article 14 because it is arbitrary.
“This order is deliberated, intentional & motivated”, said Faizan Mustafa, an expert of the Constitution. Uttrakhand Govt disregarded Uttarakhand HC’s order directing the Government to conduct 50000 COVID tests per day. Kumbh Mela IG Sanjay Gunjyal said, “A stampede may occur if the police try to enforce physical distancing guidelines at Kumbh Mela”. Recently, our Prime Minister said, “Kumbh mela should now only be symbolic to strengthen COVID 19 fight”. This should have been done before the start of this sacred Mela, but better late than never.
Rallies; a cause of concern:
Our representatives are conducting huge rallies with lakhs of people, making the situation worse than ever, and appealing to us to be locked in our homes.
We have seen our former Health Minister conducting a rally without even wearing a mask. And so far, two candidates, A Sanjukta Morcha candidate of Jangipur, RSP’s Pradip Kumar and Congress candidate Rezaul Haque of Samsergang, have died of Covid. But no one is considering the seriousness of the situation.
Calcutta HC had directed the District Magistrates and Chief Election Office of West Bengal to Ensure Strict Implementation Of COVID Guidelines during Election, but the High Court’s order fell on deaf ears.
The High court criticized the Uttar Pradesh government for its handling of the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases and imposed a lockdown in Lucknow, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Kanpur and Gorakhpur till April 26. Allahabad HC said, “If people die of the pandemic in a large number due to paucity of sufficient medical aid, it would be the governments to blame which failed to counter the pandemic even after one long year of experience and learning. It is a shame that while the Government knew of the magnitude of the second wave, it never planned things in advance”, But the UP govt refused to implement this order and later, the Supreme court stayed this judgement. But after receiving lambasting reactions of people, the apex court took suo moto cognizance of the COVID 19 situation.
Now, the Supreme court should exercise judicial activism for the sake of public interest. Recently, Gujarat HC too slammed the Gujarat govt for hiding the actual COVID 19 cases. Gujarat HC ruled that misleading data would only induce fear, distrust and panic.
In India, there is a right to equality given to every citizen, but we’ve witnessed how we treated the Tablighi Jamaat event and Kumbh differently. Muslims were blamed for deliberately spreading the virus across India by waging the term “Corona Jihad”. But now, lakhs of people flouted covid norms together in Kumbh, which might create havoc. In April 2020, more than 200 Muslims were arrested, and the media called them terrorists, but now the news channels have turned dumb on Kumbh. This justifies the double standard of people, media and authority.
India should learn from its own failure:
The situation is bleak in India, and we are struggling to fight against COVID-19. Many cities are struggling with a severe shortage of beds, oxygen and key drugs to treat the disease. People are dying, and many hospitals are left with an acute shortage of oxygen and vaccines. A mass exodus of migrant workers has already begun across India. It is true that even after a year, we haven’t learnt from our own mistakes. PM Modi, in his address, has said that we should use lockdown as a last resort but did not talk about the solutions required to combat this situation. If the situation remains the same, then an entire nationwide lockdown is not far.
Naman Sharma (CLAT 2021 Aspirant)
Shivpuri ( M.P)