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Communal disharmony in times of coronavirus

BJP legislator appeal to not buy vegetables from Muslim vendors; another party legislator blames AMU for the virus spread
Members of the Tablighi Jamaat leave from LNJP hospital and head towards a quarantine centre in New Delhi.

Piyush Srivastava   |   Lucknow   |   Published 28.04.20, 09:01 PM

A BJP legislator in eastern Uttar Pradesh has appealed to the people of his Assembly constituency not to buy vegetables from Muslim vendors.

Another BJP legislator from western Uttar Pradesh has alleged that the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College of Aligarh Muslim University was responsible for spreading the coronavirus.

In a video clip, Suresh Tiwari, the MLA of Barhaj, is heard telling a gathering in Hindi: “As I am telling you openly, you all should keep it in mind that you do not buy vegetables from a miyan (Muslim).”

Tiwari’s seat falls in Deoria district, adjacent to Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s home district.

Tiwari confirmed to reporters in Deoria, 350km east of Lucknow, that he had made the statement last week but insisted he was playing a peacemaker.

“I was distributing masks among the people on April 18 when 17-18 people came to me near a boundary wall of the Nagar Palika and said that the problem was created by the members of the Tablighi Jamaat; they were spreading the coronavirus and contaminating vegetables with their saliva. I asked them (the complainants) to stop buying vegetables from them instead of fighting with them,” the MLA said on Tuesday.

“It was my advice to the people of Barhaj not to buy vegetables from Muslims,” added the 74-year-old lawmaker.

The allegation against Aligarh Muslim University’s medical college was levelled by Dalveer Singh, the MLA of Barauli in Aligarh.

“There is a hub of the coronavirus at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College. The college doesn’t inform the administration on time about Covid-19 patients. The state government must order an inquiry,” a video clip shows Singh, 75, telling a group.

Asked, Singh told The Telegraph that he stood by his remarks. “There are doctors in the medical college who run personal hospitals in surrounding areas. They treat the patients in their personal hospitals and send them to the medical college when they find that the patients are suffering from Covid-19. I can prove this.

“I have lodged a complaint with Rajnath Singh, Union defence minister, who belongs to Uttar Pradesh. I have also informed the chief minister that all senior doctors are avoiding coming to the college and only junior doctors are working there,” Singh said.

Hamza Malik, a member of the resident doctors’ association of the college, said: “We are testing 250 patients every day free of cost. The MLA may not be aware of the Covid-19 tests we are conducting.”

S. Kidwai, spokesperson for AMU, said: “The allegation of the MLA is baseless.”

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