The number of infections apart – 298283 till date –, glaring still is the monumental tragedy affecting the working class. Migrant workers got battered; Muslims scapegoated; slum dwellers damned for not maintaining social distancing norms. The Union Home Ministry abdicated its responsibility of getting the workers safely to their home states right at the commencement of lockdown I. The Union Railway Ministry belatedly made arrangements for their transportation but in the packed trains the social distancing norms were just not possible. Workers – during the journey lasting up to 24 to 36 hours – faced deprivation of food, water; there were many deaths. This state-sponsored transportation of workers constitutes the most blatant violation of social distancing norms putting the lives of migrants at risk of contracting n-coronavirus.
The authorities indulged in targeting, witch-hunting members of Tablighi Jamaat. If the organizers of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation could face criminal cases under stringent laws, should not the bureaucrats, politicians and technocrats in the three key Union ministries – Health; Home Affairs and Railways be subjected to similar criminal cases?
For the sake of argument let us accept the figure of 13,000 people who attended the Tablighi congregation at Nizamuddin, New Delhi in March 2020 lasting for 2 days. Let us also accept the figure of 1000 cases eventually getting added because of the congregation. These are of course administration provided figures. Now consider 9.1 million workers who were stranded all over the country in gatherings/assemblies – big or small for over two months! At times they were mass protesting facing police lathis; getting arrested and jailed. The workers desperately wanted to reach home.
A simple two step calculation is in order.
As 13,000 people constituted one Tablighi congregation,
so 9.1 million i.e. 91 lakh people constitutes the equivalent of 91,000,00 divided by 13,000 = 700 Tablighi congregations; of course here the 9.1 million people were workers who were forced into this situation not of their own making as the state had abdicated its responsibility. These migrants are hence victims.
If one Tablighi congregation led to an increase of 1000 new cases,
then the equivalent of 700 Tablighi congregations would likely lead to 700 multiplied by 1000 = 700,000 new cases. This is a rough estimate. If correct this could bring the health system to the brink of disaster.
Will the Prime Minister take action against the guilty in the three main Union Ministries?
Dr. P. S. Sahni is an independent medico-legal researcher and member of ABVA. Email: [email protected]