July 25, 2021

Narendra Modi’s India in the abyss of Covid-19

By Guillaume Delacroix and Sophie Landrin

Posted on May 26, 2021 at 9:00 p.m., updated yesterday at 3:16 p.m.

One morning, it was at the beginning of May, residents of the city of Buxar discovered a dozen bodies floating in the Ganges, bloated by being in the water for several days. For hours, the current continued to carry its share of horrors. In all, 71 bodies were recovered from this town in Bihar, in northeastern India. According to the authorities, they came from the neighboring state, Uttar Pradesh. To prevent such an incident from happening again, they set nets at the border between the two regions. Their suspicions were confirmed when, a few days later, after an episode of rain, hundreds of corpses appeared along the sandy banks of the river, downstream from the holy city of Benares.

A man dressed in a protective suit carries the body of a member of his family, who died of Covid-19, before his cremation on the banks of the Ganges, in Garhmukteshwar (Uttar Pradesh) on May 6, 2021.

The reasons for this massacre are now known: in Uttar Pradesh, one of the poorest states in the country, many families are too poor to pay for the wood needed for a cremation, the price of which can reach 10,000. rupees (112 euros). The bodies of suspected Covid-19 victims were therefore abandoned, thrown into the water or hastily buried. In order to measure the extent of the phenomenon, the newspaper Dainik bhaskar, published in Hindi, sent thirty reporters along the Ganges. On a route of more than 1,100 kilometers, they counted more than 2,000 corpses, while the regional government claimed to deplore only 300 deaths from Covid-19 per day. The poet Parul Khakkar concluded that the sacred river had become “A hearse”.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Coronavirus: in India, the government is trying to silence critics of its crisis management

How many victims does the second most populous country on the planet (1.38 billion inhabitants) have? The question emerged at the same time as the epidemic, in February 2020, but never found an answer. Narendra Modi’s nationalist government is trying to hide the scale of the ongoing tragedy, refuses to acknowledge the facts, ignores the advice of scientists. The reality is however there: the whole country is sick of Covid-19 and of an obscurantist regime, which made believe that the magic would move SARS-CoV-2 away from the subcontinent.

“The Empire of Death”

Brilliant political scientist, Pratap Bhanu Mehta was indignant in these terms in the independent magazine Outlook: “The second wave of the pandemic would probably have hit India hard anyway. But there is no doubt that the indifference, incompetence and callousness of the Modi government gave the empire of death more hold than it otherwise would have had. (…) Managing the pandemic has been a spectacular abdication exercise. “

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