COVID-19: Ex-Civil Servants Write to CMs on ‘Othering’ of Muslims
They expressed concern about Muslims being persecuted after COVID cases were linked to Tablighi Jamaat.
More than 100 retired civil servants have written an open letter to the Chief Ministers of all states and Lieutenant Governors of all Union Territories on Thursday, 23 April, expressing concern over multiple reports of harassment and persecution of Muslims in some parts of the country after the rising number of Indian coronavirus cases were linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in New Delhi, as per a report by The Indian Express.
The letter was signed by several former civil servants, including Julio Rebeiro, Wajahat Habibullah, Shivshankar Menon, K Sujatha Rao and S Y Quraishi, amongst others.
The ex-civil servants said that it was indeed “misguided and condemnable” for the Jamaat to get together a large group by turning a deaf ear to the Delhi government’s advisories when a pandemic was raging in the country. However, they also condemned the attitude of a section of the media who chose to sensationalise this issue by giving it a religious colour.
The group, under the banner of the Constitutional Conduct Group, said that the Jamaat has been drawing a lot of flak for ignoring the basics of social distancing and has also been deemed responsible for the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“Although this was hardly the only incident of such gatherings, sections of the media hastened to give a communal colour to COVID-19, including attributing motives to the Tablighi Jamaat in spreading the virus to different parts of the country,” the letter read.
The letter also stressed on the fact that fake video clips have gone viral, showing Muslim vendors spitting on fruits and vegetables with the intention of spreading the disease. The signatories asserted that the fear generated by this pandemic is being used to “other” the Muslim community.
All of them requested the CMs and Lieutenant Governors to ensure that there is proper vigilance to prevent boycott of any community and to also make certain that medical help and assistance be equally available to everyone in need.
Referring to the instances of atrocities on Muslims, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Thursday, 23 April said that the entire Muslim community cannot be held responsible for one group's "crime". "Whatever that organisation did, criminal negligence or crime... most Muslims have strongly reacted to it, condemned it and called for action against it. Entire community cannot be held responsible for one person or one organisation's crime," he said in an interview to PTI.
Last week, the Union Health Ministry had said 29.8 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases – 4,291 out of 14,378 COVID-19 infections – in the country were linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in March at the group's headquarters, following which some sections of the society severely criticised Muslims, and blamed them for the spread of the pandemic.
(Inputs: The Indian Express and PTI.)
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