Covid-19 Blame Game is an insightful and moving documentary tracking the vicious scapegoating of marginalised people by majoritarian political elites around the world during pandemics past and present. It is based on the research and concept developed by Dr Laila Kadiwal, Fellow of Education and International Development at University College London, and made by the acclaimed director of Sameer and Birth 1871, Dakxin Chhara. The film starts with a bird’s eye view of the scapegoating of various minority groups, which in the 2020 pandemic of Covid-19 included the Roma communities in Romania, the Shia Hazaras in Pakistan, Black minorities in China, and the Chinese minorities in the UK and the USA as well as the homeless populations in the USA.
Watch the trailer of Covid-19 Blame Game below.
Following on from the global story, the documentary explores in great depth the sadistic demonisation of Muslim communities, in particular the Tablighi Jamaat, in India as Covid-19 engulfed the country causing fear and confusion. This demonisation was a deliberate ploy to cover the abysmal failure of the populist authoritarian regime to contain the crisis as it focused instead on stoking communal divisions. Covid-19 Blame Game is a timely but stark reminder that such scapegoating of minorities during a crisis can be dangerous. The Great Bubonic Plague was followed by genocide of the German Jewish population and the Great Kantō Earthquake in Japan by the massacre of Korean minorities.
The Covid-19 pandemic and consequent sudden lockdown in India also exposed the worsening state of existing inequalities in the country. The internal migrant labour population, comprising mainly of Dalits, Christians, Muslims and Adivasis, were forced to head homewards on foot due to the thoughtless shut down of public transport by the authorities. Among the thousands walking hundreds of kilometres were women, children and untimely causalities that added a heavy burden to the Covid-19 death count. The documentary exposes how blame games were played to overshadow this humanitarian disaster.
International Network of Democratic Indians Abroad is a secular, non-profit, independent non-governmental organisation working to support and strengthen democratic and secular values in India and among people of Indian origin abroad.
We aim to uphold the principles enshrined in the preamble of the Constitution of India and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Visit website – www.india-abroad.org
Shatterproof Productions is a British Indie film company that works with internationally well-known and award-winning directors and partners to highlight the human cost of ongoing socio-political issues that are not given the traction they deserve in mainstream media. Our films have relevance for audiences worldwide.
Visit website: www.shatterproofproductions.com
Between 2007 to 2009 I was making films, as an associate director with my mentor Rakesh Sharma, on political issues in Gujarat. One such film dealt with how both Hindu and Muslim youth engaged in the 2002 pogrom.
I remember shooting in a newly constructed colony, for the 2002 survivors, called Citizennagar. It was located on the edge of a dumping yard that resembled a mountain. It stank horribly, was extremely unhygienic and looked like a slow killing machine. We started shooting some interviews at this location during the monsoon. It was unbearable to sit there because as soon we started to speak flies would enter our mouths and noses. The groundwater was full of toxic sewage because of the dumping yards. The inhabitants here had to drink this water. We were surrounded by children who were clearly malnourished and sick. Many of them got liver disease and died. What motivated them to commit such horrible and violent acts against each other? Why did the communal demographic harmony completely change? I have clear memories of the horror stories of the indoctrination and hate perpetrated against each other under the cover of religion.
You might wonder why I am recounting this episode? The reason is that before we discuss Blame Game, we must have clarity about the vulnerability of the Muslim community in India. The 2002 pogrom survivors were the most harassed and traumatized people, but for them the Government of Gujarat did not make one fully funded rehabilitation colony. This shows how insensitive our governments are towards Muslims and how Muslims are a vulnerable population in India.
As I have became more aware about the world, politics, and arts, I have realised that the mainstream media, politicians, and clergy classes undermine the underprivileged communities and portray them as enemies of the majority population of the state. This was immediately visible during the first lockdown when most media houses accused Tablighi Jamaat and blamed them as “Super-Spreaders”. Political leaders of the majority party took this as an opportunity to portray the entire Muslim community as ‘traitors‘, `Corona Bomb‘, ‘Corona Jihad’ etc. Words such as these, blaming an entire section of society, was a horrendous and well-designed political campaign by mainstream media houses social media.
Due to this vicious campaign against Tablighis, we saw innocent Muslim people being treated as ‘criminals‘ and they were subjected to lots of atrocities committed by people at large and the police. We also saw that Tablighis were quick to respond to clear their name, but their voices were unheard and undermined by the administration. This was a brutal and calculated attack on the Muslim community to bring them into disrepute and blame them for bringing Corona to India. While this Blame Game was going on, the Modi Govt. was failing on a lot of major initiatives.
For example Modi announced lockdown with just 4 hours’ notice, no preparedness, no intimation to government institutions, no transportation, and no food for people. Millions of unemployed laborers wanted to go back to their homes and wanted to be with their families during the pandemic. When government failed to provide transportation for them, they walked hundreds and thousands of miles to go back to their homes, many died because of hunger, many died in accidents and many died through sheer exhaustion due to walking…children, women, young man, old people all walked and it was the biggest migration since 1947 migration due to partition. The Government having failed to address this problem wanted to divert people’s attention from it. So, blaming the Tablighi Jamaat became a huge “Diversion” from the real issue and focused everybody on something that never was an issue.
This is the modus operandi of the current BJP government. Diverting people’s attention from the real issues and its own failures.
As a creative person, as filmmaker I was really hurting seeing how the Muslim community was being blamed for Corona. I just wanted to scream out and shout “Stop this nonsense” …I could easily see the similarity between propagandist narrative like those of the Nazis in this blame game happening before me.
It was extremely necessary to show the real picture, the counter narrative, of this Blame Game to the people of the world. When Shatterproof Productions Manisha and Naveen called me and asked whether I would be interested in making Covid-19 Blame Game, I immediately jumped at the chance because I already wanted to tell the real story of this blame game to the world.
When I saw Dr. Laila Kadiwal’s research on this subject, I found that Tablighis were not the only people who were being blamed for bringing Corona Virus to their respective countries. There are Romas in Romania, Homeless in USA, Chinese and Asians in UK and USA, Africans in China, Hazaras in Pakistan. I then realised how the Blame Game is being played globally by authoritarian regimes and using it to oppress minorities in their respective countries.
Covid-19 Blame Game is the film that shows how brutal insane politicians globally and their blind followers brand specific groups of people as ‘criminals‘ for causing the pandemic and then use this to further oppress them physically, mentally, and alienating them from society both politically and economically.
Shatterproof Productions is a British Indie film maker.The founders aim to bring to international audiences issues that do not seem to have gained as much traction as they deserve.We do this through creative and compelling new perspectives.