Former civil servants appeal for social harmony

Published : April 25, 2020 13:08 IST

Muslims offer Friday prayers as they maintain physical distancing at the Shahi Jama Masjid on March 27. Photo: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP

A group of concerned former civil servants belonging to the All India and Central Services who have organised themselves as the “Constitutional Conduct Group” have written an open letter to Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors in the country drawing their attention to the harassment of Muslims in some parts of India. The letter emphasises that these State leaders should “bring the people of India together rather than allowing the deepening of fissures in our country” during this period when the country is threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tracing the targeting of Muslims to the Tablighi Jamaat conclave in Delhi in March, the letter states that “although this was hardly the only incident of such gatherings, both political and religious, sections of the media hastened to give a communal colour to COVID-19, including attributing motives to the Jamaat in spreading the virus to different parts of the country”. The letter states that while act of the Jamaat was condemnable, “the action of the media in communalising it and extending it to the Muslim community as whole is utterly irresponsible and reprehensible”.

The letter goes on to list how this kind of coverage has fuelled hostility towards Muslims in various parts of the country and goes on to partially list these incidents. It even flags incidents of Muslims being turned away from hospitals in many parts of India as matters of serious concern. The letter appeals to the Chief Ministers to “instruct all public functionaries to be particularly vigilant to prevent social boycott of any community in the State and to ensure that all the entitlements including medical and hospital care, rations and financial assistance are available equally to all those in need”.

The letter has 101 signatories. Some of the prominent bureaucrats who have signed the letter include A.S. Dulat, Wajahat Habibullah, Najeeb Jung, Shivshankar Menon, Julio Ribeiro, Shyam Saran and Jawahar Sircar.

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