Shabana Azmi rues derailment of vaccination drives, but couldn’t be honest about who derailed it

Scientist and columnist Anand Ranganathan, who among other things is known for leading a team of scientists who identified a peptide molecule that can effectively prevent the interaction between malaria parasites and receptors found on RBCs thereby preventing the parasites from invading the RBCs and causing the disease, came down heavily on actor Shabana Azmi for being soft on those who are derailing the Kerala vaccination drive. In an Indian Express article, Azmi was talking about how rumours spread through WhatsApp against vaccination drives in Kerala made many parents keep their children at home instead of sending them to school so that they could not be vaccinated.

However, as Anand Ranganathan pointed out, she did not mention the details of those who were leading the anti-vaccination drive which often got violent. In November 2017, Mubasheer (23), Safan (26) and Faisal Babu (24) were arrested in Valanchery for barging into the vaccination area armed with knives alleging that the children were being vaccinated without the consent of parents. Deputy District Medical Officer (DMO) Renuka had said that rumours are spread over social media that such vaccination drives are carried out to contain the Muslim population and that the protein used for vaccination is made out of pig meat to discourage vaccination.

He also pointed out how Azmi does not talk of CPIM MLA Ariff spoke against Measles-Rubella vaccination by claiming it will harm the natural immunization of children. Ariff has taken up a fight for the right of people to reject vaccination. Anand Ranganathan also pointed out how Muslim students in Assam fled schools fearing forced sterilizations during the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination drive calling it ‘RSS vaccine’.

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He further stated how in Jharkhand, Muslim mobs attacked Japanese Encephalitis vaccination workers in multiple cities alleging vaccination drives as BJP conspiracy to turn kids impotent.

Measles killed 49,200 Indian children in 2015, all of which could have been prevented if the kids were vaccinated. He pointed out how vaccination drives are hitting a wall in Muslim pockets where anti-vaxxers were running a propaganda against the very idea of vaccination.

He then urged Azmi to call out the particular community which is more likely to be against vaccination, as evident, and support the doctors who are trying to fight the orthodoxy and propaganda against vaccination.


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