April 17, 2020: Fear and anxiety has manifested the fight of COVID-19 as central to communalism in India.
The rising #infodemic surrounding COVID-19 has laid down a red carpet to islamophobia today. And this has found its staunch presence in Ahmedabad hospital in Gujarat on Wednesday where coronavirus patients are segregated into two different wards based on religious identities.
The circulation and tolerance of calling Muslim population as the bearer of the novel coronavirus over the social media platforms has paid off. It has already done its work by drawing a line of religious differences and characterizing a particular community as the main sinner.
When patients in hospital become unsure of their security just not because of the absence of cure to COVID-19 yet, but because of the presence of co-patients belonging to a particular community, it is obvious from this that people begin to act upon the perception that is created.
According to a doctor quoted in a report by The Hindu newspaper, "Certain patients from the majority community were not comfortable being in the same ward with patients of the minority community."
"After some patients complained, it was decided to segregate them on temporary basis," the doctor told.
The claim was first reported by The Indian Express, where Dr Gunvant H Rathod, the Medical Superintendent of Civil Hospital Ahmedabad COVID hospital was quoted – “Generally, there are separate wards for male and female patients. But here, we have made separate wards for Hindu and Muslim patients.”
He had said that it was a decision of the government.
While immediately after that, the Gujarat health & family welfare department termed it as “absolutely baseless” further clarifying that “patients are kept in different wards based on their medical condition, severity of the symptoms and age, purely based on the advice of the treating doctors”.
Even the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom hasn’t missed any opportunity to term it as “increase in ongoing stigmatization of Muslims in India and exacerbate false rumors of Muslims spreading COVID-19”.
FAKE: A video clip showing a group of people, mostly youth belonging to the Dawoodi Bohra community huddling around utensils and licking them, is being widely shared on social media claiming that Muslims are deliberately spreading Coronavirus in the country amidst the #COVID19 pandemic.
FACT: Although old, the video is real and being shared with the misleading claim. Searching Google with the keywords 'Mulsim', 'Licking', 'Plates' and 'Saliva' revealed that the video dates long before the #COVID19 pandemic occurred. According to the description of this video, the people in the video under the leadership of the Bohra chief priest Syedna Mufaddal were cleaning the big plate called Thal, so as not to waste food (The Logical Indian Fact Check website).
#CheckTheFake is a movement against #Infodemic in this crisis, initiated by Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust #ARMT (www.armt.in) in collaboration with The Assam Tribune and Northeast Now (www.nenow.in) to create awareness on #fakenews on #Coronavirus and improve media literacy through #Cartoons. ARMT Research