Around 101 former civil servants have written to the chief ministers of different states addressing their distress of Muslims being harassed in different parts of the country.
“It is with much anguish that we bring to your attention reports of harassment of Muslims in some parts of the country, particularly following the meeting of the Tablighi Jamaat in March in the Nizamuddin area of New Delhi,” the former bureaucrats wrote in an open letter, accessed by a news agency.
These bureaucrats belong to the all-India and central services, from all over India and said they “do not subscribe to any particular political ideology but rather focus on issues that have a bearing upon the Indian Constitution”.
Condemning the action of Tablighi Jamaat and calling it “misguided”, the group of former bureaucrats also criticized a particular section of the media for their “utterly irresponsible and reprehensible” action which they believe has fuelled hostility towards the Muslims.
“The action of the Jamaat in organising such an event, ignoring the Delhi government’s advisories was, without question, misguided and condemnable. However, the action of the media in communalising it and extending it to the Muslim community as a whole is utterly irresponsible and reprehensible,” it said.
“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 Tablighi Jamaat in spreading the virus to different parts of the country,” the letter said.
Such coverage has fuelled hostility towards the Muslim community in parts of the country, the former bureaucrats said, citing different incidents of alleged bias towards Muslims, including reports of Muslims being turned away from hospitals and health facilities at various places.
“In addition, there are reports of the special entitlements of rations and cash, that governments have sanctioned at this time, being denied to Muslim families,” the former civil servants claimed.
“We can endure, survive and overcome the challenges that this pandemic has imposed on us only by remaining united and helping each other,” the former civil servants said in an open letter, hailing those chief ministers who have been resolutely secular in their approach both in general and, in particular, in relation to this pandemic.
“We call upon you to reassure all the people in your state that there is no truth whatsoever in the rumours that any particular group has more infections than others in our country,” they said in the letter.
They requested the chief ministers to instruct all public functionaries to be particularly vigilant to prevent a 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.
“At this time of grave national and international crisis, we count on your leadership in bringing the people of India together rather than allowing the deepening of fissures in our country,” the letter stated.
The former bureaucrats said some Muslim nations with whom India has traditionally maintained good relations have also expressed serious concerns about the recent development in the country.
These bureaucrats include former cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar, former IPS officers AS Dulat and Julio Ribeiro, former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, former Lt Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung and former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi.