Coronavirus: “Gomutra campaign” in West Bengal

Published : March 17, 2020 19:03 IST

In West Bengal, wayside stalls such as this attempt to make a quick buck selling what is allegedly ‘gomutra’. Photo: Courtesy: www.patrika.com

Superstitious beliefs have found their way alongside the fear and panic created by the coronavirus in West Bengal. Several instances of distributing cow urine and cow dung have surfaced, and also a few cases of selling them.

Alleged Hindutva organisations have been seen distributing cow urine samples to passers-by to sip, with the assurance that it is the only preventive for the coronavirus. Quite a number of people were seen willingly partaking of it. Subrata Gupta, president of the Cow Development Cell, an organisation that claims to be associated with the Sangh Parivar, told Frontline, “It is a proven fact that gomutra (cow urine) has great medicinal value. It can certainly act as a preventive for the coronavirus. We are in the process of spreading awareness about this not just in different parts of West Bengal, but all over the country. People who are opposing this are ignorant.” He said the gomutra campaign will be stepped up after celebrating gopujan (cow worship) around the end of March.

Subrata Gupta claimed that he had the full support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in this campaign. “We are not a part of the BJP, but we follow the same ideology and way of functioning,” he said. The State BJP, however, has officially distanced itself from the campaign. Sayantan Basu, general secretary of the State unit of the BJP, told Frontline, “We are not opposed to such ideas, but we do not subscribe to them either because we believe more scientific research is required. This is a very critical issue and is connected with the health of the masses. I can categorically state that we do not have any such agenda or programme planned out.”

On March 16, however, a group of people, wearing the BJP badge, were seen distributing cow urine in central Kolkata. “In West Bengal we have more than one crore members. Anyone could have done it, but they did it in their individual capacity,” said Basu. A senior BJP leader, while not acknowledging the party’s participation in the campaign, nevertheless confirmed that a large section of the party has welcomed the initiative. In a clear endorsement of the campaign, State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, who is also a member of the Lok Sabha, said, “Those who are opposing the drinking of gomutra, also do it secretly… I have had gomutra before, and I am not ashamed to say I will have it again.”

In this scenario, a certain Sk Mamood of Dankuni, Hooghly district, was arrested for trying to make a quick buck selling cow urine and cow dung. Till his arrest he was apparently doing brisk business selling cow urine at around Rs.500 a litre.

Doctors across the State have in one voice condemned the campaign endorsing cow urine as a preventive for coronavirus. The eminent physician Fuad Halim pointed out that while there were no benefits or ill-effects of consuming cow urine unless the cow was suffering from an infection in its urinary tract, it could encourage a false sense of complacency among those who chose to believe in such theory, which in the present situation was dangerous. “Those who are propagating this may create a false sense of security in the people, who may not take the precautionary measures believing they are now safe from the virus. This may precipitate a pandemic situation. Moreover, there is really no evidence of such practice in the shastras pertaining to Ayurveda in our country. No old Ayurvedic text has such information. It is a completely modern interpretation. It is in line with the attempt [of certain forces] to appropriate our old Indian rich heritage in a perverted fashion. This actually discredits the rich heritage of our country,” said Halim.

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