When COVID-19 claimed the life of the son of the Indian Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, one of the senior leaders of the ruling right-wing Hindu nationalist party mocked him on Twitter.
Mithilesh Kumar Tiwari stated in Hindi that a pro-China leader has lost his son to the “Chinese Corona”.
Tiwari is vice president of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar. The BJP has been trying to whip up anti-China hatred in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that originated in the Wuhan area of China.
Such an insensitive comment isn't surprising, coming from a leader of the party under which attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have grown.
While Muslims and Christians have been suffering blatant violence under BJP rule, leftists and the Sikhs have also been repeatedly attacked for raising questions and standing up against injustice.
Although Tiwari’s action drew criticism from opposition parties, it reflects how the BJP continues to create divisions by polarizing people in the name of nationalism. This has occurred even during a pandemic that has left more than 200,000 people dead across India. The number is likely to mount as the country is grappling with a shortage of oxygen and hospital beds.
Tiwari’s tweet is in line with racial hatred against people from northern Indian states who are often taken as Chinese because of their East Asian facial features. The situation is no different than the anti-Asian racism being witnessed here in Canada.
This is despite the fact that the China has offered to help to India in this time of humanitarian crisis, leaving aside all the differences due to territorial disputes.
Another rival of India, Pakistan, has also offered assistance.
India has longstanding hostilities with these two neighbouring countries. Such antagonism has grown under the BJP government, which is bent upon targeting communists and Muslims in the garb of anti-China and anti-Pakistan rhetoric, respectively.
If this were not enough, the Canada’s New Democratic Party leader, Jagmeet Singh, has asked our government to intervene and help India because the pandemic know no boundaries.
While Khalsa Aid, a Sikh humanitarian organization, is proving free oxygen to the needy, a separatist group, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), has offered monetary help to people in need of oxygen.
Interestingly, the pro-BJP media has been attacking Khalsa Aid and SFJ, in addition to Jagmeet Singh for standing up for minority rights in India. Notably, SFJ was banned by the BJP government, whereas Khalsa Aid and Singh were accused of supporting terrorism.
Even though the COVID-19 situation has completely gotten out of hand, the BJP government and its apologists seem more concerned about their image in the international media.
Instead of being humbled, the government is asking social-media companies to shut the accounts of those criticizing the mismanagement of the pandemic. BJP hardliners are threatening to charge whistleblowers who have exposed the chaos.
It is pertinent to mention that Facebook first suspended a hashtag campaign #ResignModi, asking the Indian prime minister to step aside, but later restored it, claiming this was an accident.
We don’t need to be rocket scientists to understand that it happened under pressure from the world’s so-called largest democracy.
Let’s face it: it is the BJP government that has landed India into trouble and continued to lie to the world about its preparedness. No arrangements were made to deal with the second wave that was much anticipated.
It’s time that the tyrants in power in New Delhi come out of denial, acknowledge their failures, and be thankful to their “enemies” who have shown compassion and kindness in the face of all the mudslinging.