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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 16 New Delhi, April 4, 2020

LETTER TO THE READERS - COVID 19 Lockdown Edition No.2

Saturday 4 April 2020

Today is April 3, 2020. Ten days ago the whole country was locked down following the PM’s address to the nation on March 24, when he announced the government’s momentous decision on this score prompted by the spread of the corona virus. Since the lockdown continues to this day we are unable to publish the print edition of our weekly for the second consecutive week and are thus constrained to bring out only the online edition of the journal VOL LVIII No 16 dated April 4 2020. We earnestly hope our readers will, despite all difficulties bear with us.

The most noteworthy news in this period has been the fact that the religious congregation organised by the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin last month culminated in a spurt in the coronavirus cases in the country. Yesterday, (April 2) press reports disclosed that as many as 65% of the new 544 confirmed cases attributed to the diseases tested positive. Reputed medical practitioners categorically pointed out in interviews that the collective battle against the coronavirus or COVID-19 ‘has to be won at the community level, rather than the hospital level’. If this is indeed the case then what the Tablighi Jamaat organisers did in the Capital last month can be described as just criminal negligence as was highlighted by a national newspaper (The Indian Express) today, the least those persons can do at this stage is to ‘use their formidable network to cooperate with those who are now working to heal the damage they helped inflict’.

This is the voice of reason which was sought to be stifled by both the Hindu communalists in power at the centre (who spread raw anti-Muslim communalism) and some misguided elements among the left outfits (who doggedly backed the TJ without any logic what so ever).

Last week the plight of migrant labourers was brought into focus in the last Letter to Our Readers on March 27th. Thereafter the PM has spoken of his decision of holding a programme on Sunday (April 5) throughout the country in the face of the disease that has attacked India and the world at large. But except for a word about the hardships being borne by those in the lower rungs of society he did not find it necessary to mention about the predicament of our toiling millions walking back to their native places of residence, by covering huge distances after having lost their jobs in the states where they were employed. This is most regrettable and can only accentuate the rich poor divide in our society. That is why this merits sharp criticism without equivocation.
Once again we hope and pray for the best for our teeming multitudes in the face of the natural calamity that has struck our country and the international arena at present.

April 3, The Editor

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