India Censoring Criticism Of Its Pandemic Response Shows Misplaced Priorities

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, today expressed dismay over the government of India’s continued obsession with managing the news coverage of the pandemic instead of the pandemic itself.

As the pandemic rages across India accounting for almost half of all new cases globally, the government ordered Twitter to block over 50 tweets that criticized its complete mismanagement of the pandemic. Among them was a tweet by Indian American Muslim Council, comparing the rabid Islamophobia targeting the Tablighi Jamaat and all Indian Muslims in the early days of the pandemic with the near silence over government support for the massive Kumbh Mela, that has endangered the lives of millions of Hindu devotees and their fellow citizens.

Today hundreds of thousands of Indians belonging to all faiths are literally gasping for breath, afflicted by a virus that makes no distinction on the basis of religion or caste. In this horrifying scenario, the government’s alacrity in pressuring Twitter to block tweets critical of its handling of the crisis shows the administration’s moral compass continues to point in a direction that is shamelessly self-serving.

“The catastrophic surge in Covid-19 cases across India and the collapse of the country’s healthcare system is a monumental albeit avoidable tragedy for which the responsibility lies squarely on the government’s misplaced priorities,” said Mr. Khalid Ansari, Vice-President of IAMC.  “Many precious lives lost to the pandemic might have been saved had the government not been obsessed with advancing the Hindutva agenda of subjugating minorities, and focused instead on governing for all Indians,” added Mr. Ansari.

Far from leading by example to overcome the crisis, the Modi administration promoted the spread of the virus by organizing countless super spreader events in the form of election rallies where masking was not enforced and where Mr. Modi as well as Home Minister Amit Shah addressed massive crowds.

IAMC has urged Indian Muslims, especially Muslim healthcare workers and relief organizations to rise to the occasion by serving their fellow citizens. Observance of civic duties, a commitment to defending the country and selfless service towards people of all faiths is the need of the hour.

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