A BBC investigation revealed how the far right is exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic to spread conspiracies – it’s no different in India

  • Coronavirus conspiracies are being spread by far-right groups across the world – from blaming 5G technology to targeting Muslim and other minority communities.
  • Some of the Coronavirus conspiracy theories also say that this pandemic is a population control tool.
  • In India, the Tablighi Jamaat incident has been used by far-right groups to target Muslims using hashtags like #CoronaJihad, using the pandemic to suggest that it is a form of terrorism.
  • Other Coronavirus conspiracies in India suggest that hot weather, clove and herbs, and alcohol can help people avoid contracting Covid-19.
The Coronavirus pandemic has forced the Indian government to announce a nationwide lockdown since March 24, but it’s not just the deadly disease that we need to worry about.

There have been many conspiracy theories, blame games and propaganda around Coronavirus across the world, and it’s no different in India. A recent investigation by the BBC showed that the far right was spreading Covid-19 misinformation on Facebook.

Some people are calling the pandemic a population control tool, while others suggest Bill Gates is spreading the virus. 5G has also been blamed as one of the reasons for spreading Coronavirus. This has resulted in several 5G masts being burnt in the UK.


It’s no different in India

The far right has been using the Covid-19 pandemic to spread conspiracies around the world and it’s no different in India. The Indian right wing has used the pandemic to attack the Muslim minority in the country after the Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin led to a sudden spurt in the number of confirmed cases.

The fact is that there were many other communities across the country who were violating social distancing norms whether it was for religious congregation, or a wedding, or political activities.


However, the far right and many times even India’s Health Ministry officials highlighted the Tablighi Jamaat event so often that it became commonly believed that they were the cause for the pandemic in India.

Most recently, the Chief Minister of BJP-ruled Gujarat, said, “A large number of people attended the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi and came back to Gujarat. By the time we could track them, they had already come in contact with their friends, family and other people around them. This led to the rise in cases in the city.”

The far-right runs with it

According to a Time report, more than 3,00,000 tweets used the hashtag #CoronaJihad between March 8 and April 3, likely fueled by the breakout at the Tablighi Jamaat event. While the hashtag no longer returns results, a search for the term ‘Corona Jihad’ returns the following tweets from some far-right users:

Some users smelt a coronavirus conspiracy even in the violation of ceasefire in the India-Pakistan border.


While some others think there is a terror angle behind it.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped in with a call against the hate mongering but much damage was done already.


The attempts to pin the blame on one community for the spread of COVID-19 in India is only one of the many waves of misinformation to flood WhatsApp groups. AIIMS director Dr. Randeep Guleria had to issue a clarification to bust these myths. He also said that hot weather, clove and other herbs, and alcohol cannot prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

Most recently, IFCN added a WhatsApp chatbot that can help users fact check news about Coronavirus.

See also:

Nearly a third of Americans believe in coronavirus conspiracy theories. Science explains why people tend to believe them more in times of crisis

Anti-quarantine protesters are being kicked off Facebook and quickly finding refuge on a site loved by conspiracy theorists

A bizarre conspiracy theory puts Bill Gates at the center of the Coronavirus crisis — and major conservative pundits are circulating it