With the number of coronavirus cases in Maharashtra steadily on the rise, the Nagpur branch secretary of an Islamic seminary- Jamia Arabia Islamia, Mohammad Abdul Aziz Khan, has written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Speaker Nana Patole, asking them to counsel with the Muslim clerics and discussing with Maulvis before segregating and quarantining people belonging to Muslim community suspected of being infected by the novel coronavirus. Khan’s request that Muslim clerics should be consulted before isolating Muslim coronavirus patients comes on the heels of the large number of cases reported in Nagpur, especially from the minority-dominated localities of Satranjipura and Mominpura.
The letter further states that self-quarantine should be advocated instead of cordoning off the entire area. The Jamia Arabia Islamia secretary held that the government should heed to the views of Muslim clerics before taking any action in this regard. Khan wrote that before separating Muslim Coronavirus patients, some Muslim NGOs and religious leaders should be consulted, their views should be taken into consideration and the process should be taken forward with their trust.
He also wrote in the letter to the Maharashtra CM that sufficient provisions are not made by the state government to provide food supplies to those observing fasts during the month of Ramzan and exhorted him to take steps on this matter.
The audacity of the Muslim cleric from Nagpur to suggest the state government to consult Muslim clergies before fashioning a response to blunt the spread of the coronavirus comes amidst reports claiming Muslims to be the most affected community due to coronavirus outbreak in Maharashtra. As per a report published in the Indian Express, about 44 per cent of COVID-19 related deaths in Maharashtra have been recorded among Muslim community while Muslims only form 12 per cent of the state’s total population.
According to experts and epidemiologists, the disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths among Muslims can be attributed to a range of factors, particularly to the continuance of Friday prayers in mosques till March 20 (officially), difficulties faced in implementing social distancing norms in the areas where the community resides, high population density and utter lack of sanitary and healthcare facilities in such regions.
Many cases in Maharashtra also emerged from the congregation organised by Tablighi Jamaat in Markaz Nizamuddin in mid-March. Many of those who had attended the Jamaat event had remained in the hiding, evading quarantine measures that could have played a crucial role in stemming the infection in the state.
Veiled threat issued by a Muslim cleric in Maharashtra
Earlier, A Muslim cleric had demanded special privileges for his fellow Muslim clerics on the account of Muslim holy month of Ramzan. Issuing a veiled threat to the Maharashtra Police, Mufti Hujefa Kasmi of Bhiwandi asked the police to not take any coercive action against Muslim clerics who are found violating the lockdown restrictions during the month of Ramzan. Kasmi had warned that police action against Muslim clerics during Ramzan will not be tolerated by the community members and could touch off a wave of violence.