Unidentified people attacked the family members of Zareen Taj, an activist with psephologist Yogendra Yadav’s Swaraj Abhiyan, while they were distributing relief material amid the Covid-19 lockdown in Dasarahalli in Bengaluru last week, The Hindu reported on Monday. Taj alleged that the attackers were members the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Taj said four of her family members, including her son, and her son’s friend were injured in the incident. “A leader said they will not allow us to distribute ration till the Health Department checked and cleared it as safe as they alleged that we were spreading virus deliberately,” Taj said. The attackers also filed a police complaint claiming that the distributors were not following social distancing norms.
Those attacked were identified as 23-year-old Syed Tabrez, the son of Zarin Taj and Bengaluru district secretary of Swaraj Abhiyan, and five others – Kiran, Junaid, Riyaz, Feroz and Amjad.
Taj said that when the distributors approached the police, they were told that such disruptions will not be allowed in future. However, on Monday, when they were distributing ration, a group of six people, different from those who confronted them on April 4, allegedly attacked them with cricket bats.
“Five of us are badly injured,” Taj said. “Is it wrong that we want to help the hungry?” Taj claimed the assailants said: “Muslims are poisoning the rations, you people don’t deliver food here, you Muslims have to leave the slum and relocate somewhere else.” The wounded have been admitted to Dr Ambedkar Medical College in Shampur.
Bengaluru Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East) Bhimashankar Guled said the police has zero tolerance against anybody spreading communal hatred. He said a case will be registered in the matter and arrests will be made. Asked why this was not done earlier, Guled said the victims did not want to file a case.
“Using the Tablighi Jamaat incident, the community is being stigmatised by political forces, through social media and a section of mainstream media,” Tanveer Ahmed, an activist volunteering with Mercy Mission, a not-for-profit organisation, told The Hindu. The Tablighi Jamaat sect had organised a congregation in Nizamuddin in Delhi last month, following which hundreds of the attendees have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in different parts of the country.
A week ago, a delegation from the Muslim community wrote a petition to Director General and Inspector General of Police Praveen Sood, seeking directions to all police commissioners and superintendents of police to act against hate speech.
The total number of cases in India rose to 4,421 on Tuesday morning, including 114 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.