Communalization of Coronavirus: Bihar Muslim Leaders Urge CM Nitish Kumar to Act against Erring Officials
Mumtaz Alam | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI/PATNA, APRIL 13— Top Muslim organizations in Bihar have strongly objected to the wording in some government officials’ letters regarding alleged conspiracy to spread Coronavirus in the country and urged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to act against the concerned officials for attempts to give a communal colour to the epidemic. The CM’s Office is believed to have reprimanded the concerned officials.
In a joint statement on Sunday, Muslim organizations recorded strong objection to the letter written by District Magistrate of Bettiah (West Champaran) and urged the Chief Minister to take action.
In his April 7 letter to Police Superintendents of Bettiah and Bagha, Circle Officers of Bagha and Narkatiaganj and some BDOs of the district, the DM of Bettiah Kundan Kumar, citing an April 3 input from 47th Vahini Battalion of Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) (Pankota, Ramgarhwa), had said that “40-50 Corona suspect Indian Muslims are about to enter India”.
Referring to the input of the SSB, the DM had also written: “Zalim Mukhiya, Village Jagannathpur, Post Janki Tola, PS Serwa, District Parsa, Nepal, who is a Nepalese citizen, is planning to spread Coronavirus in India. He is also involved in illegal arms smuggling between Nepal-India…” The DM asked the officials “to remain alert at the India-Nepal border and keep close watch on any suspicious activity.”
Communalization of Coronavirus Cannot Be Acceptable: Muslim Leaders
Objecting to the language of the government officials’ letters, leaders of several eminent Muslim organizations, including Imarat Shariah, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and Jamiat Ulama, said “attempts to give communal colour to Coronavirus cannot be acceptable at all.”
Maulana Rizwan Ahmed Islahi (Jamaat-e-Islami Hind)
Maulana Shibli Qasmi (Imarat Shariah)
Talking to India Tomorrow, Maulana Rizwan Ahmed Islahi, Bihar state President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said: “We Muslim leaders had talked to Home Secretary on phone over this issue two days ago. Yesterday (April 12) we issued a joint statement and strongly objected to the government official letter (DM of Bettiah) whereby Muslims were held responsible for the spread of Coronavirus in the country. Any attempt to give Coronavirus a communal colour cannot be acceptable, and government should take action against such officials.”
“On the basis of the government official’s letter, a section of media is maligning the image of the Muslim community. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should immediately stop this trend,” read the joint statement of Muslim leaders signed by Maulana Shibli Qasmi (Imarat Shariah), Maulana Syed Ahmed Raza (Markazi Idarah Shariah), Hasan Ahmed Qadri (Jamiat Ulama), Maulana Rizwan Ahmed Islahi (Jamaat-e-Islami Hind), Maulana Khurshid Alam Madani (Jamiat Ahle Hadith), Maulana Amanat Hussain (Anjuman Ulama, Khatibba Imamiah) and Anwarul Huda (All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat).
Intelligence Input Was Misleading, CM Office Has Reprimanded Officials: JD-U Legislator
A legislator of the ruling Janata Dal-United of Nitish Kumar has also raised objection to the controversial letters of the government officials.
Talking to India Tomorrow, Member of Bihar Legislative Council Khalid Anwar said: “The intelligence input was misleading. This should not have been done.”
Khalid Anwar, Member, Bihar Legislative Council
He further said: “The SSB official had alleged that people are hiding at a madrasa in Khairwan and at another madrasa in Chandanbara – both in East Champaran. When Zalim Mukhiya is in Nepal, how will he hide people in India? Both these madrasas are in India. How did the official say they are in Nepal?”
Anwar, who is also Chief Editor of multi-edition Urdu daily ‘Hamara Samaj’, said that the DM also acted in a haste.
“The area cited as in Nepal is in Indian territory. It is surprising that those who are guarding our borders do not know if the area is in Nepal or India. Then they alerted the DM (Bettiah). This was wrong. DM also acted in a haste and on the input of the official (from SSB) he wrote the letter,” he said.
The legislator claimed that the CMO has reprimanded the concerned official.
“The state government was not taken into confidence (by DM). The CM office was not taken into confidence. That is why CM is also angry over this issue. The CM’s Office has reprimanded the DM,” said Anwar.
The lawmaker, who also comes from East Champaran, also said that the SP had himself visited the madrasas and did not find anything suspicious.
“About 10 days ago, some people from Bajrang Dal had complained that some people are hiding in these madrasas. SP himself had visited the two madrasas and later he said in written that the madrasas were closed four days before the lockdown. There were no children there, only office bearers of the madrasas were there. There was no outsider and there was no suspicious activity there,” said Anwar.
CM Asks DGP, Chief Secretary to Act against Hatemongering
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has instructed officials to act tough against hatemongers.
“Two days ago, the CM had held a meeting with DGP and Chief Secretary and asked them to take strong action against those who are spreading hatred in the name of Coronavirus. There were reports that some people are not buying vegetables from Muslim vendors and members of the minority community are not being allowed in Hindu-majority areas. After the CM’s order, administration in districts are now making announcements in mohallas and localities against hate mongering and rumours,” said Anwar who was elected to the Bihar Legislative Council in April 2018.
When asked if the state government considering action against a section of news media for communalizing the issue, Anwar said: “Last week, local media outlets were given strong instructions against such news. DGP had issued statement and advisory for the media. They were told that administration will take action on baseless, fake and rumour-based news items. Its result is that such things have stopped coming in the local media.”