Opposition parties in Lucknow on Sunday accused the district administration of targeting Muslims by naming some coronavirus hotspots after local mosques, PTI reported. The district administration rejected the accusation, claiming it was merely following guidelines.

The administration had mentioned eight mosques in the initial list of hotspots in Lucknow. The list, written in Hindi, said: “In police station Kaisarbagh, area around Phoolbagh Masjid...”

“The administration has named hotspots after mosques in Lucknow,” Uttar Pradesh Congress President Ajay Kumar Lallu told PTI. “This is unfortunate. This is a pandemic which did not attack a particular religion. It has nothing to do with a particular religion or sect. The government should focus on increasing testing facilities. The government is hiding its failures with such moves.”

Samajwadi Party MLA Rajpal Kashyap wondered what message the Lucknow administration wanted to send to the people of Uttar Pradesh by using such names for hotspots. “The focus should be on treating patients, making people aware and taking measures like sanitisation [drives] to check the spread,” he said. Kashyap claimed that the names of the hotspots suit the political agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state.

However, a senior administration official said the hotspots were named after mosques because Covid-19 cases were detected in their vicinity. “This is just to pinpoint an area where more cases have been found, nothing else,” he told PTI.

Masjid Ali Jaan in Sadar Bazar, Mohammadiya Masjid in Wazirganj, Khajoor Wali Masjid in Triveni Nagar, Nazarbagh Masjid in Kaiserbagh and Rajauli Masjid in Gudumba are the mosques which have been used to name coronavirus hotspots in Lucknow.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Saturday claimed that the Tablighi Jamaat group was responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in the state and other places. “Being infected with a virus is not a crime, hiding it is definitely a crime,” he said.

Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference held in Nizamuddin in Delhi in March. Later, it was discovered that thousands of Tablighi Jamaat members and their contacts had Covid-19. Instances of discrimination against Muslims have increased in India since the news of this spread.

Lucknow has so far reported 226 cases of Covid-19, and one death. The state has reported 2,645 cases of the virus, of which several are linked to members of the Tablighi Jamaat.