Ever since Delhi’s Markaz Nizamuddin was identified as a coronavirus hotspot, several old and unrelated videos showing the Muslim community in poor light are being circulated on social media. In a deliberate pattern to delegitimize the community, a number of videos are shared on social media calling for a boycott of the community. This act of communalising a pandemic is disturbing as well as dangerous.
Fruit seller allegedly putting saliva on fruits
A video uploaded by a Twitter user ‘Desi Mojito’ went massively viral which showed a fruit seller allegedly spitting on the fruits that he was selling. It was claimed that the man in the video is spitting and putting his saliva on the fruits, thereby, infecting them. The video claimed that Muslims are purposely spreading COVID-19 disease in the country.
Fruit seller identified and arrested
The man was later identified as Sheru and was arrested in Madhya Pradesh’s Raisen district on Friday, 3 April. He was booked under sections 269, 270 of the Indian Penal Code. The section deals with malignant act likely to spread infection of disease danger¬ous to life.—Whoever malignantly does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
According to The Quint, Monica Shukla, Raisen SP, told that the video in circulation is as old as 16th February. During interrogation Sheru told police that he had never done anything like this before. “I don’t know what happened to me. I was just putting the rotten fruits aside.”
Sheru’s daughter, Fiza said that her father had a habit of counting money like that and that he was just sorting the fruits in the same way. She also claimed that due to his illness he constantly makes gestures of counting notes – the same way he is seen “counting” the fruits. Nilendra Mishra, a local reporter in Raisen, also confirmed that the video is not a recent one and dates back to 16 February.
Raisen district has no positive cases of coronavirus
When the Alt News fact checked, it found that a keyword search on Twitter also bore no results for coronavirus positive cases in Raisen district. It also noted that the first confirmed coronavirus case in India was reported on January 30, 2020, but the government had declared the outbreak as a notified disaster only on March 14, while the video in question is as old as February 16. The first coronavirus positive case in Madhya Pradesh was reported on March 20.
Unhygienic but not intentional
Though no one would defend vendor’s act as it was unarguably unhygienic. However, grossly twisting the issue and making it viral on social media by terming it deliberate act to spread coronavirus and calling for a boycott of Muslim vendors is equally reprehensible.