Maharashtra Police Crackdown on ‘Corona Devi’ Promoters in Rural Solapur

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Exploiting the fear psychosis among hapless people in rural areas, some elements are promoting the concept of ‘Corona devis’ and ‘mandirs’ encouraging people to sacrifice animals

Ashok Kumar | Clarion India

MUMBAI – Anti-social elements near Solapur in Maharashtra have over the past few days been urging the poor not to wear masks or take other precautionary measures against Covid-19, and instead believe in a ‘Corona devi’ and offer her sacrificial animals.

While several members of the Pardhi community in Barshi town near Solapur were conned into believing about and following a ‘Corona devi’ and giving her sacrificial goats and chicken, the police on Saturday cracked down on the practice and removed all the facilities that had been set up over the past few days.

Milind Deshmukh, a spokesperson for the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), an anti-superstition body that has been active for long in the state, told Clarion India that their representative in Barshi confirmed the police action on Saturday afternoon. “The threat of Covid-19 and the rising number of people being admitted to hospitals in Solapur district and increasing deaths have given rise to fears among ordinary people especially in rural areas,” said Deshmukh.

In Barshi, for instance, the villagers were told that humans could be saved if they sacrificed goats and chicken. They were also told not to bother wearing masks and taking other precautions. Solapur district has seen about 800 Covid deaths and about 5,000 active patients are under treatment. It is one of the most backward districts of Maharashtra, facing perennial problems.

A worried district administration decided to crackdown on such practices and on Saturday finally pulled down the infrastructure that was coming up in Barshi. Incidentally, ‘Corona devis’ are also being promoted in other parts of India including West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and even Kerala. Not all of them have been urging people to sacrifice animals for their ‘devis,’ but there are fears that many would fall for these practices and give up masks and medicines.

Notes Deepak Girme, a senior official of the MANS in Pune: “This kind of misinformation about ‘Corona devis’ and ‘Corona mandirs’ will only result in some people extorting the poor and making money.”

 

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