‘First Muslims, Now Sikhs’: Nanded Pilgrims Face Vilification
Tablighi Jamaat cases were used to blame all Muslims, now Huzur Sahib Nanded is being maligned: Akal Takht Jathedar
The sudden spurt in COVID-19 cases in Punjab has been given a communal spin, with some in the media and social media blaming Sikh pilgrims returning from Nanded.
ABP News for instance gave the headline ‘Corona vispot’ (explosion) while talking about the Sikh pilgrims from Nanded who had tested positive. The terror vocabulary being used is similar to how COVID-19 patients from Tablighi Jamaat were labelled as ‘Corona Jihad’.
The vilification campaign against Sikh pilgrims is reported to be underway on social media as well.
According to reports, 183 pilgrims who returned from Nanded have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, about one third of the total cases in Punjab. There were around 4000 pilgrims from Punjab stranded at Huzur Sahib gurdwara in Nanded and many of them have been brought back through arrangements made by the Punjab government.
However, there are some unanswered questions. According to details provided by the Maharashtra government, there were only three COVID-19 cases in Nanded district. So how can so many pilgrims coming from Huzur Sahib test positive for COVID-19 after their arrival in Punjab? Does it mean that they were not properly screened in Maharashtra? Or did they contract the infection on the way? There are reports that the buses in which the pilgrims were being brought stopped at Indore, a major COVID-19 hotspot, on the way.
For now, the Punjab government appears to have succeeded to some extent in preventing further spread from the returning pilgrims. But how the pilgrims contracted the infection needs to be looked into.
However, instead of these crucial questions being asked, it is the vilification campaign that appears to have taken over.
‘Conspiracy’ Says Akal Takht Jathedar
The Jathedar of the Akal Takht Giani Harpreet Singh has said that this vilification appears to be a conspiracy to malign minority communities.
“There was a frenzy to vilify the entire Muslim community by citing the case of Tablighi Jamaat, now there is a campaign to present Huzur Sahib as an epicentre of Coronavirus to malign the Sikh community. This is a conspiracy,” the Akal Takht Jathedar said.
He also raised questions on how the pilgrims could test positive in Punjab if they didn’t test positive in Nanded.
“I’m told they were screened thrice and tested negative all the times. Nanded had just two COVID-19 cases. So how can these pilgrims who were in the Gurdwara for the past month or so, suddenly test positive on reaching Punjab?”
Even earlier the chief of the highest temporal body of Sikhs, had warned that COVID-19 is being used to spread hatred against Muslims and Sikhs.
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