(TMU) — As India struggles with the deadly impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the South Asian nation has been placed under lockdown by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the same time, locals have improvised ways to prevent infections amid fears that the country’s healthcare services are woefully underprepared for what could be a major disaster.
In the state of Gujarat, one of these remedies has been the consumption of cow urine, which is being touted by officials for its alleged immunity-boosting properties and abilities to protect people from CoViD-19. The state has long been a stronghold for the Hindu supremacist ideology or Hindutva that Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) upholds.
Economic Times reports that the sale of the cow urine—referred to locally as goumutra—has been on the rise since the outbreak of the disease, with locals drinking the piddle in fresh liquid form or drinking and gargling it in condensed form.
The regressive cultural politics of Hindutva promises to make the COVID-19 crisis in India an unmitigated catastrophe.
6,000 liters of cow urine is being consumed everyday as a vaccine in Modi’s state of Gujarat.https://t.co/iYKKWZJEId
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) April 1, 2020
According to Vallabh Kathiria, the chairman of the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog—an agency established by Modi for the “conservation, protection and development of cows,” according to a government press release—cow urine can even be used as a body spray that would ward off “malicious microbes” like the coronavirus.
Kathieria, who previously served as a Union minister of state for health and family welfare, told Economic Times:
“Apart from improving digestion, goumutra strengthens the lymphocytes and is reach in antioxidants.
[The] use of cow urine kills bacteria and would definitely be helpful in fighting the coronavirus.”
Labhshankar Rajgore, another so-called “cow activist” in the region, also told the newspaper that he planned to develop cow urine-based hand sanitizers, noting that the urine-based body spray he had invented in 2007 had proven “useful to keep the virus away along with many other harmful germs.”
Until some years back, the Notion of Hindus consuming Cow urine was used only by Pakistan Army & hardliner Islamic preachers. In 2020 many Muslims abuse or degrade Hindus calling them "Cow Urine drinker"
This proves that how Hardliner Islamists have hijacked our institutions.
— Prⓞud 𝕂afi̵r (@twwettierr) April 5, 2020
The reported surge in cow urine sales comes after an activist with the ruling BJP was arrested after he organized a party last month where participants drank cow urine to combat the novel coronavirus. One of the participants who drank the cow urine eventually became sick.
Dilip Ghosh, the president of the BJP’s West Bengal branch, complained to AFP that the arrest of the party leader was “unfortunate” and ran contrary to the “democratic” nature of India. Ghosh added that “everyone has the right to express his opinion.”
14th March 2020.
Haan ji, any arrests/ FIRs for the famed Gaumutra party?
200 people were in attendance, no social distancing was observed and no masks were spotted. https://t.co/zPrBEiVA1J
— Sidrah (@SidrahDP) March 30, 2020
The popularity of the remedy—which hasn’t been proven to have any medicinal qualities whatsoever—shows the extent to which a historically secular Indian society is being transformed by superstitious ideology of religious Hindu supremacists, who venerate cows as holy and embodying goddess-like properties.
The rise in superstitions surrounding the excrement of supposedly “sacred” cows has coincided with a rise in anti-Muslim violence by Hindutva adherents, as well as controversial attempts to pass laws like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) that India’s 200 million Muslims fear would effectively strip them of their citizenship. India’s minorities fear that the actions of the ruling BJP, a party that originated in a political movement inspired in part by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party, could lead to a “Muslim Holocaust” if they are unchecked.
Unrest surrounding the CAA and NRC saw months of protests earlier this year culminated in February with deadly anti-Muslim mob violence and riots in the capital, New Delhi.
Muslims are now being blamed for the spread of CoViD-19 after dozens of cases of the novel virus were linked to a Muslim missionary group’s annual conference in March. This has led to social media users spreading false rumors and fake news about the Islamic community in India waging a so-called “corona jihad” or “bio jihad.”
— PAYAL ROHATGI & Team- Bhagwan Ram Bhakts (@Payal_Rohatgi) April 4, 2020
The “corona jihad” builds on the Hindu nationalist claim that Muslims are trying to “Islamicize” India. A similar concept, “love jihad,” claims that Muslim men are targeting Hindu women for seduction in order to convert them to Islam.
Last year, BJP leader Ranjit Bahadur Srivastava also accused Muslims of waging “love jihad” against the so-called “Hindu nation”—this time by keeping cattle in their homes. The BJP leader added that the bovine creatures were not only Hindus themselves, but should also be treated as mothers.
Speaking to Asian News International, the BJP leader said:
“Cows in the houses of Muslims should be taken back. When we consider girls from our homes going to their homes as ‘love jihad’, shouldn’t we consider [sacred cows] going to their homes ‘love jihad’ too? This is love jihad. Cows should be taken back from them at any cost.
…Goat is their mother. They should opt for goat rearing. Why do they rear cows? This is love jihad. I am against it.”