Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday said India is heaven for Muslims and that their social, economic and religious rights are secure in the country, PTI reported.
His comments came after the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had on Sunday urged the Narendra Modi government to take urgent steps to protect Muslims who are being “negatively profiled”, facing “discrimination and violence” amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Responding to the criticism, Naqvi said: “We are doing our job with conviction. The prime minister whenever he speaks, he talks about the rights and welfare of 130 crore Indians. If somebody cannot see this, then it is their problem.”
The minister added that secularism and harmony is not a “political fashion”, but a “perfect passion” for India and Indians.
“India’s Muslims, its minorities, all its sections, are prosperous and those people trying to vitiate this atmosphere of prosperity, they cannot be friends of Indian Muslims,” Naqvi added.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission’s statement came on the same day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that “unity and brotherhood” must be the response to the coronavirus, which does not see “race, religion, caste before striking”.
Muslims in India have been targetted ever since news broke that a convention held by the Tablighi Jamaat was a coronavirus hotspot. Videos circulating on social media platforms 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. Even certain television channels and organisations like the Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT Cell blamed Muslims for the spread of the pandemic.
In several places, this had also translated into violence. On April 7, rumours about Muslim men intentionally spitting to spread the virus reportedly led to group clashes in Jharkhand’s Gumla district. A youth was beaten to death and two others were injured in the incident.