New Delhi: The Delhi Minorities Commission Thursday asked the Arvind Kejriwal government to drop any mention of religious undertones in its daily health bulletins on the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to the director and secretary of the Delhi health department, DMC Chairman Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan said: “Your bulletins of coronavirus victims are showing a separate column ‘Markaz Masjid’. Such thoughtless classification is feeding into the Islamophobia agenda of the lap media and Hindutva forces and has been easily turned into a handle to attack Muslims across the country.”
“As a result, Muslims are being attacked in various areas, calls are being made for their social boycott… One boy has been lynched in the North-West Delhi village of Harewali, others attacked,” read the letter, seen by ThePrint.
There were 93 new cases Wednesday, according to the daily bulletin, which also specified that 429 were cases related to the Tablighi Markaz of the total 669 cases in the national capital.
— CMO Delhi (@CMODelhi) April 8, 2020
The Tablighi markaz cases refer to those who were infected after attending the Tablighi Jamaat congregation held in New Delhi last month or coming in contact with these people. The congregation had thousands in attendance, including foreigners from South Asia, making the event the largest known vector for the novel coronavirus in the region.
Responding to a journalist’s tweet questioning the classification, Akshay Marathe from the Chief Minister’s Office said the distinction was being made to assure people there was no need to worry about community transmission.
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The DMC letter also cited the World Health Organization (WHO) observation to emphasise on its point, noting that WHO Emergency Programme Director Mike Ryan said on 6 April, “Countries should not profile novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in terms of religion or any other criteria.”
“Two days later he asked governments not to politicise the issue and stop profiling people on religious basis. The Indian Union health ministry followed suit and said in its advisory on 8 April, 2020: ‘Despite all precautions, if anybody catches the infection, it is not their fault. In a situation of distress, the patient and the family need support and cooperation.’ Further, the advisory requested citizens to ‘never spread names or identity of those affected or under quarantine or their locality on the social media’”, the DMC letter said.
Requested the Delhi health department to stop mentioning data with religious undertones, the letter said it could also be exploited for political or communal purposes.
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