Islamophobia in India in Times of Covid  

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Dear Editor,

The recent incident of the lynching of a Muslim man accused of carrying beef in Gurgoan has rightly unnerved many. It was hardly surprising though.  In recent years, the violence against Muslims in India has risen exponentially and the pandemic hasn’t deterred it. The contagion, on the contrary, was used to vilify Muslims. They are blamed for spreading it. Muslim journalists, students and anti- CAA activists have been and continue to be detained under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) — a strict clause under which security agencies can keep a person behind bars without filing charges up for to 180 days and the defendants cannot be released even on bail.

Various international organizations such as the World Rights Body have asked New Delhi to drop charges and free all those imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Various Non-governmental organizations such as the Indian Muslim Federation, Sri Guru Ravidass Global Equal Organization, and the UK-based Indian Diaspora South Asian Solidarity Group have also expressed their concern and extended their solidarities.

However, little is being done to ensure the release of those wrongfully detained. In fact, no action has been taken against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) politicians Kapil Mishra, Paresh Verma, and central minister Anurag Thakur for issuing threats and indulging in hate speeches against Muslims. Even Manish Sirohi, the person who attacked the peaceful gathering of Muslims was taken into custody, only to be released soon after. Thereby giving an impression that these stringent laws are applied selectively and are meant for Muslims only.

While countries across the globe are releasing prisoners intending to curb the spread of this deadly virus; in India prisons are filling up with more and more activists, journalists, scholars and intellectuals. Islamophobia has aided to rationalise these arrests which are mostly directed towards Muslims. These incidents are quite unsettling as they establish the unfortunate realisation that hate might last longer than the pandemic.

Adnan Javeed Kichloo

PhD Research Scholar

Department of Economics, University of Jammu

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