Lucknow: ‘Corona jihad faila rahe ho tumlog, tum sale mulle jab tak maare na jao kayde se, apni aukaat me nahi rahoge, Nizamuddin pahucha dunga sabko (You people began Corona Jihad here. Unless you Muslims are beaten properly, you won’t understand your station. I will send you people to Nizamuddin).’ Saeed Akhtar’s (name changed) voice quivered as he repeated the line his nephew had heard. Mudassar (name changed), a member of the Tablighi Jamaat, is under quarantine in Meerut.
After New Delhi’s Tablighi Jamaat hit the headlines, the response to the incident has acquired a communal colour in Uttar Pradesh.
Several members of the Tablighi Jamaat have alleged that they have been facing communal slurs, mistreatment and harassment under quarantine in Meerut, where they have been kept after being exposed to the novel coronavirus. They have alleged that the administration is mistreating them and a number of young men blamed government officials for using communal slurs.
“Nearly two months ago, Mudassar had appeared for intermediate examinations. For three days, he went to the Jamaat in Mawana (a sub-district of Meerut) where he probably came into contact with a Jamaat of foreign delegates,” said Saeed. He mentioned that Mudassar was “absolutely fine” when he got back home, but “when he had coronavirus symptoms a few days later, he went to an intermediate college in Kila Parikshitgarh which has turned into a quarantine centre.”
Saeed added that his nephew was taken to a lab for screening a couple of days later and tested positive. He was then taken to another quarantine centre in Meerut city's Panchli Khurd area. “Before taking him from here, Mudassar was beaten by sub-inspector Sanjay Baliyan. While beating Mudassar, Baliyan was saying 'Aur Jamaat me jayega' (Will you go again for Jamaat?),” Saeed alleged, telling NewsClick that “communal slurs were hurled at him before they took him to the quarantine centre.”
Saeed alleged that Baliyan harassed and assaulted his nephew. “The injuries inflicted left a blue and red mark on Mudassar’s body. He told me all this from someone else's phone as he does not have a cellphone," Saeed said. He looks after his nephew who lost his father many years ago.
The families of three persons who were tested positive for COVID-19 in Mawana, claimed that the three patients were beaten up by police at the makeshift quarantine centre before being shifted to another quarantine centre in Meerut.
One of the patients, a 60-year-old man, has suffered bodily injuries. The cops allegedly hit him with such force that his leg was fractured.
Some of the people who witnessed the police brutality against the three patients are too scared to speak up. However, NewsClick spoke to some patients in quarantine, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity.
One person, who has been quarantined in Mawana after his father tested positive, alleged that his elderly father was beaten up. “I do not know where my father has been kept and how he is, since his report came positive. He was brutally beaten up in the ambulance and even on the way when he was being shifted to the quarantine centre in Meerut. Neither had he gone for Jamaat, nor did he go to Delhi. What is his fault? It just because of our Muslim identity that we are beaten up," he added.
Meanwhile, on April 11 the Jamiat Ulama, Uttar Pradesh wrote a letter to the Uttar Pradesh DGP about the matter. "In the name of a medical examination, the attitude of the police is very strict in places and it seemed that the police had come to search not for a patient but a criminal or a terrorist. In one such instance, in Mawana town of Meerut district, police have beaten up three persons after their reports came positive," the letter read.
Syed Ashhad Rashidi, president of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind’s Uttar Pradesh unit has demanded an inquiry against the police.
Migrants Pay Price of Staying In Quarantine
The situation for hundreds of migrant workers, who were forced to leave several cities in India, has been far from easy. Most of them are suffering in penury and a significant number who have been quarantined in Uttar Pradesh have accused government officials of treating them like criminals.
NewsClick spoke to activists who claimed that the makeshift quarantine centres in villages and towns across Uttar Pradesh lack basic facilities. They said that there was no facility for water, for toilets, and even fans are absent in rooms. In some cases the head of the village is not providing quarantined people with food and if someone brings them food from home, the police is beating them up.
Due to the lack of basic amenities, 18 migrant workers fled from a quarantine centre in Sitapur district. On April 10, a sarpanch (village head) was booked and a lekhpal and panchayat secretary were suspended in Pipri Shadipur village in Pisawan area of Sitapur district for negligence after 18 labourers quarantined in a primary school were allowed to leave without a medical inspection for COVID-19.
The incident is the latest in a series of lapses reported from quarantine centres in rural areas of UP, where people, especially jobless migrants who recently returned from other states, have escaped quarantine centres.
Richa Singh, an activist from Sitapur, alleged that the migrants fled “because food and bedding was not given to them. One of them dialled 112, following which the DM and SP came to the village and the issue came to light.”
NewsClick had reported on how a migrant worker from Gurugram had been mistreated and beaten up by police in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri during quarantine, following which he committed suicide.