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India dismisses US panel's critical remarks on segregation of Hindu, Muslim COVID-19 patients

nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 15 April 2020, 20:26 IST
Last Updated : 15 April 2020, 20:26 IST
Last Updated : 15 April 2020, 20:26 IST
Last Updated : 15 April 2020, 20:26 IST

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After United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed concern over reports on segregation of Hindu and Muslim Covid-19 patients in two separate wards in a hospital in Gujarat, New Delhi has strongly reacted, accusing the panel of adding religious colour to the fight against the virus in India.

“As if its peremptory commentary on religious freedom in India is not enough, the USCIRF is now spreading misguided reports on the professional medical protocols followed to deal with the spread of Covid-19 in India,” Anurag Srivastava, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi.

The USCIRF – an “independent, bipartisan federal government entity” established by the American Congress – earlier tweeted expressing concern over reports of Hindu and Muslim Covid-19 patients being segregated in two separate wards at the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad. “(The) USCIRF is concerned with reports of Hindu & (and) Muslim patients separated into separate hospital wards in #Gujarat,” the panel posted on Twitter. “Such actions only help to further increase ongoing stigmatization of Muslims in #India and exacerbate false rumors of Muslims spreading #Covid19,” it added.

The commission is mandated by the American Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. It makes foreign policy recommendations to the US President, the US Secretary of State and US Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief.

It has been publicly criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in New Delhi on the issue of religious freedom. It also recommended to the US President Donald Trump in December 2019 to impose sanctions on Indian Home Minister, Amit Shah, who piloted the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill through the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

The Government of Gujarat denied the media reports about the segregation of Covid-19 patients on the basis of religion at the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad.

“It (USCIRF) must stop adding religious colour to our national goal of fighting the pandemic and distract from larger efforts. No segregation is being done in civil hospitals on the basis of religion, as clarified by the Gujarat Government,” Srivastava, the MEA spokesperson, said.

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Published 15 April 2020, 20:26 IST

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