India on Sunday called Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s allegations of discrimination against Muslims “bizarre”, reported PTI. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Khan’s remarks were an attempt to shift the focus from the “abysmal handling” of Pakistan’s internal affairs.

In a tweet, Khan had likened the Narendra Modi-led Indian government to the Nazi rule in Germany. He had accused the Indian government of targeting Muslims amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The deliberate [and] violent targeting of Muslims in India by Modi government to divert the backlash over its Covid-19 policy, which has left thousands stranded [and] hungry, is akin to what Nazis did to Jews in Germany,” Khan had tweeted on Sunday evening. “Yet more proof of the racist Hindutva Supremacist ideology of Modi Govt.”

Asked about Khan’s remarks, Srivastava said Pakistan was busy “making baseless allegations” against India instead of concentrating on fighting Covid-19. “On the subject of minorities, they [Pakistani leadership] would be well advised to address the concerns of their own dwindling minority communities, which have been truly discriminated against,” Srivastava added.

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The Muslim community in India has come under attack by some sections ever since a convention held in Delhi by the Tablighi Jamaat turned out to be the source of thousands of Covid-19 infections across the country. Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the conference in mid-March. Over 25,000 Tablighi Jamaat members and their contacts were quarantined in the country after the Centre and states launched a massive operation to trace them in the last week of March.

Misleading videos circulating on social media platforms have appeared to show Muslim men spitting on food, licking plates and sneezing in unison to spread the virus – all of these have been debunked as fake news. A cancer hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut put out an advertisement that it would not take in new Muslim patients if they do not come with a negative test result for Covid-19.

Even certain television channels and organisations like the Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT Cell blamed Muslims for the spread of the virus. The health ministry has also consistently maintained that the event organised by the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area led to a big jump in coronavirus infections in India.

However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the disease affects everyone equally. He added that the country’s response to the pandemic should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood. “Covid-19 does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking,” Modi said. “We are in this together.”

India has recorded 17,265 coronavirus cases and 543 deaths, according to the health ministry’s Monday morning update. But the Indian Council of Medical Research said at least 17,615 people have tested positive so far. The ministry said it is “reconciling” its figures with those from ICMR.

Also read:

  1. India has taken notable steps to contain Covid-19 – but failed to curb surging anti-Muslim rhetoric
  2. Anti-Muslim prejudice doesn’t just endanger our ability to fight Covid-19 – it’s morally wrong
  3. Media watch: How vocabulary was weaponised to target Indian Muslims after the Tablighi Jamat event