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Massive Eid gatherings show the futility of lockdown during the second wave of the pandemic in India, it is time to lift them now

Authorities in most states of India are not even pretending that they are making an effort to clamp down on Eid gatherings.

The Muslim community across the world is celebrating Eid ul-Fitr today. With it, the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end. As is to be expected, social distancing norms and lockdown measures against the Coronavirus pandemic have gone for a toss during Eid celebrations.

Authorities in most states of India are not even pretending that they are making an effort to clamp down on Eid gatherings. It is in stark contrast to the atmosphere that has prevailed in the country for months on end.

The visuals emerging from multiple states are quite staggering. Huge crowds are loitering in the streets to celebrate the festival. But it is not a new development. Such scenes have prevailed over the past few days in the run up to the festival.

Such scenes demonstrate why lockdown in India during the second wave of the pandemic was a doomed endeavor from the very beginning. Apart from questions regarding their efficacy, lockdowns will not work if authorities refuse to enforce the restrictions on one particular section of the community.

Enforcing lockdown was a humongous task even during the first wave of the pandemic. However, people were more willing to abide by the restrictions because there was the general sentiment that the lockdown will not be a regular feature and it was only temporary.

After more than a year, people’s patience is already wearing thin. On top of that, there is clearly a discriminatory manner in which the lockdown is being implemented across various states. It is unclear how lockdown is supposed to help, even if it helps at all, when you allow vast sections of the population to flout every norm.

There are genuine costs to such duplicity. It leads to a disregard for the law among the larger populace. For instance, a policewoman was attacked in Madhya Pradesh and a police vehicle was set on fire after cops visited a marriage ceremony in Chhindwara where Coronavirus guidelines were reportedly being violated.

It’s really unfortunate what happened and people should not be taking the law into their hands but when they can see that Coronavirus restrictions are being applied in an arbitrary manner, they will respond accordingly at some point. This is not a justification for lawless behaviour, it is only a word of caution for what happens when laws are not imposed equitably. Sooner or later, people decide that they have had enough.

It is not one or two errant occasions but the general condition of the state of the lockdown. In Tripura, a wedding was raided and guests were thrashed. Even the groom and purohit were not spared. In Delhi, a video went viral where a couple could be seen behaving in an obnoxious manner with the police.

But it was after the Police approached the couple for not wearing a mask inside their own car. Yes, you read that correctly, inside their own car. This is at a time when restrictions are being flouted openly at the farmer protests at the Delhi border.

If authorities in India cannot apply such vast overarching laws equitably, then they should say so and not impose it at all in the first place. They should say that they do not have the capabilities necessary to enforce such a mandate and act accordingly.

Now we have a situation where livelihoods are being destroyed due to the lockdown and jobs are being lost while restrictions have been made a joke of by vast sections of the population. It is only the law abiding citizens who are suffering.

There is no justification in preventing people to earn their livelihoods when authorities are incapable or unwilling, perhaps both, to impose the lockdown on a particular community. Authorities can wax eloquence and polemic on social media and elsewhere but the manner in which the lockdown has been imposed during the second wave of the pandemic remains a blot on the face of the nation.

Such duplicity is not helpful for intercommunity relations as well. There was much hue and cry made about the Kumbh Mela and yet, the media and politicians are completely giving Eid gatherings a free pass. The pandemic politics that the media and politicians have indulged in have been one of the divisive exercises carried out in recent times.

There is a great deal of evidence that the farmer protests contributed massively to the spread of the second wave of the pandemic and yet, in global media and national, it is the Kumbh Mela that was demonised. Such hypocritical conduct has grave consequences and we will be living with it for years to come.

It is time for authorities to admit they are in no position to impose a lockdown and allow people to live as they deem it. Carrying on with the circus that persists today is a slap across the face of every law abiding citizen.

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Searched termsEid covid lockdown
K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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