Rural stay-safe campaign curbs spread of coronavirus cases, fosters communal harmony

The campaign was started by Maulana Adam Shafiullah and Abdur Rauf who went door to door to give correct knowledge of precautions to be taken in Dinhata, West Bengal

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Even today, almost three months after the coronavirus outbreak in India, people are highly misinformed about the pandemic’s symptoms and steps to be taken to stay safe thanks to the overly increasing disinformation and claims about the same.

However, setting an example of fighting misinformation with correction information are the Maulana Adam Shafiullah, the imam of a mosque and Abdur Rauf, a leader of the All India Forward Bloc’s (AIFB) youth league in the Dinhata subdivision of Cooch Behar who are visiting homes in villages with more a higher minority population to raise awareness on the contagion, The Telegraph reported.

Shafiullah told The Telegraph that going by the gravity of the situation, he felt it was necessary to undertake this task. He said, “I felt it important to visit households and tell people how to save themselves from infection. I specifically pointed out that they should refrain from assembling in mosques for weekly prayers to maintain social distancing.”

The duo have also communicated the same to imams of other mosques and the muezzins of smaller mosques to pass on awareness on social distancing, hand-washing and use of masks. Apart from this, the duo are also advising that senior citizens and children under 10 years of age stay home.

Maulana Shafiullah and Rauf are also in touch with migrant workers who are returning home and asked the family of a migrant worker to take responsibility to make all returnees aware of the precautions they need to take.

The Nazirhat, Dinhata-II block which has a population of over 50,000, with 45 percent being minorities have seen results after the two men put their efforts to issue safety directives. People stayed home during Eid and though around a 100 people had contracted the infection, most had recovered. Rauf told The Telegraph, “People were aware, they acted responsibly and that’s why the spread of the infection was not as rapid as it might have been in the area.”

Also, setting a strong example of communal harmony when the media was trying to create a divide, Rauf told TT that they went to Hindu and Muslim families alike. He told TT that they had also handed over relief materials to families of Hindu priests who were in distress due to temples being closed.  

Fake news around the pandemic has led to rumours, vilification of minorities, death and also a spike in cases. With excess information circulating, people started self-medicating and some thought of the virus to be a hoax until it spread in large numbers. In India, fake news against the minorities spread far and wide, exacerbated by the media leading to the ostracization of minorities. Amid these setbacks, the efforts of Maulana Shafiullah and Abdur Rauf are two exemplary steps forward to making the country coronavirus free and more tolerant to its minorities.


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