Chennai Muslim Woman Faces Communal Abuse After COVID-19 Recovery

The woman’s brother, a lawyer, took to Facebook to narrate the ordeal and the humiliation that his sister had faced.

Published
India
3 min read
 A 55-year-old Muslim woman was allegedly subjected to communal slurs and abusive language after she recovered from COVID-19 and was discharged from a private hospital.
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Days after a Chennai-based doctor was denied a dignified burial after he died of COVID-19, another shocking incident of ostracism has come to light in the city. A 55-year-old Muslim woman was allegedly subjected to communal slurs and abusive language after she recovered from COVID-19 and was discharged from a private hospital.

The woman’s brother AJ Jawad, a lawyer, took to Facebook to narrate the ordeal and the humiliation that his sister faced at the hands of her neighbours on Wednesday.

The woman and her 68-year-old husband tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week of March and were undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospital, Vanagaram. The woman was discharged on Wednesday while her husband is still at the hospital.

“My sister and her husband live in a house near an apartment complex in Chennai. My brother-in-law is still in the hospital since he is a little weak and we wanted him to stay there and get better. He has already tested negative for COVID-19. On Wednesday, when my sister-in-law went to the terrace to dry the clothes, she was yelled at by one of the residents in the apartment complex, who used communal slurs and other obscene words against her,” Jawad told TNM.

She was called ‘Tablighi’, a word being used as an islamophobic slur after several clusters of COVID-19 cases in the country were traced to the Tablighi Jamaat meet in New Delhi which was held in violation of the restrictions that had been put in place by then.

“My brother-in-law did not attend the Tablighi Jamaat conference in Delhi and he was going to his office in Chennai every day till the lockdown. We have no idea from where they contracted the infection,” Jawad said.

What pained Jawad even more was the kind of shaming that the house-owner, who lives in the ground floor of his sister’s building, had to face because of this.

“After news broke out that my sister and her husband were diagnosed with COVID-19, the neighbours actually called for a fire engine and sprayed water all over that building. The house-owner was also not allowed to come out of their house to dispose of the garbage or anything. The house-owner had to send his son in the middle of the night to their relative’s house to pick up basic groceries since they were being shamed during the daytime if they stepped out,” Jawad said.

Adding that it was a certain corporation worker who helped his sister get essentials on Wednesday, Jawad said that the Chennai City Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan had called him to express his regret over the incident.

“I'm extremely grateful to Mohana, the local sanitary inspector, who made sure that my sister’s needs were met. She went above and beyond her job description to ensure this, at a time when I couldn’t step out due to the lockdown. The Assistant Commissioner of Police also checked on my sister and warned the neighbours from the terrace using a megaphone. He said that strict action will be taken against those who stigmatise COVID-19 patients based on caste, religion etc,” he said.

This is not the first incident of stigmatisation that has come out around the disease.

Around a week ago, a group of men who were going to bury Dr Simon Hercules, who had died due to COVID-19, were met with angry residents and attacked.

Following outrage in the media about the attack, the Chennai police booked around 15 persons under the Goondas Act for attacking the Corporation staff and others who were arranging Dr Simon’s burial.

(This story was originally published by The News Minute and has been republished here with permission.)

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