The Modi government has been widely criticised for introducing a series of Islamophobic policies since it came into power. Prior to the outbreak false statistics flooded the media, pushing for population controls to be introduced on Muslim citizens. These petitions are amassing support, with a "subtext [that] reflects a core belief of right-wing Hindu organisations: that Muslims are trying to "overtake" Hindus."
In the twelve months before the pandemic, an Islamophobic government campaign proved dangerously successful. Its apex came in December 2019, with the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The law allowed members of India's major religious groups who had immigrated to India before 2015 to become legal citizens. Yet, despite Islam being the second most popular religion in the country, Muslims were excluded from this list. Any Islamophobia the country is now experiencing stems from this. Government actions have effectively sanctioned this kind of racist abuse. The coronavirus is simply bringing those to the fore as the responses to the pandemic are being placed under global scrutiny.
The situation has been politically charged for some time. The outbreak has not exacerbated this; tensions were already at crisis point when the outbreak began. In times of crisis people look to someone to blame, and government policies have perfectly established who this group is. Consequently, anti-Muslim sentiment has been legitimised.