Activists say that a doctor in India has been caught turning away Muslim patients and saying he will treat only Hindus, the latest alleged act of sectarianism in the country’s healthcare sector during the coronavirus lockdown.
A video shared widely on social media shows a doctor in the Mathura area of Uttar Pradesh, India, saying: “We will treat only Hindus, not Muslims.”
Meanwhile, a Muslim woman in India donated blood to a critically-ill Hindu patient after she broke her first fast during Ramadan – an act of good faith amid increasing religious tensions in the country.
Alisha Khan, 29, was approached by an NGO representative last week, Hindustan Times reported, and immediately agreed to donate blood – of which she had the rare O negative type.
After breaking her Ramadan fast, Khan went to the local district hospital and donated blood for Vijay Rastogi.
“Vijay Rastogi, an inverter-battery shop owner was suffering from serious liver infection since long. A few days back his condition deteriorated with a sharp decline in hemoglobin level. The doctor advised his family members to arrange for blood at the earliest but despite several efforts at various blood banks in Kheri, they couldn’t get ‘O negative’ blood,” social activist Tripti Awasthi said.
The family approached the NGO, who in turn found Alisha. “When I talked to her and told her about the situation she readily agreed. She was rather happy that her blood was going to help a person in the holy Ramzan month,” the representative Jaspal Singh Pali told the Hindustan Times.
This comes amid reports in mid-April that a hospital in India was placing Muslim Covid-19 patients in a separate ward from Hindu patients, after an alleged order from the state government to enact segregation.
Medical Superintendent Dr. Gunvant H Rathod, from Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, said they were given an official government order to segregate the new intakes based on their faith.
“Generally, there are separate wards for male and female patients. But here, we have made separate wards for Hindu and Muslim patients,” Dr. Rathod said in comments quoted by The Indian Express.
“It is a decision of the government and you can ask them,” he added.
Deputy Chief Minister and Health Minister Nitin Patel said he had no knowledge of the matter.
“I am not aware of such a decision (on wards as per faith). Generally, there are separate wards for males and females. I will enquire about it,” he told The Indian Express.
A patient told The Indian Express: “On Sunday night, the names of 28 men admitted in the first ward were called out. We were then shifted to another ward (C-4).”
“While we were not told why we were being shifted, all the names that were called out belonged to one community. We spoke to one staff member in our ward today and he said this had been done for ‘the comfort of both communities.'”
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu Nationalist government have come under fire for allegedly stoking tensions between the Hindu majority and Muslims, the second biggest religious group in the country.
The government’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which fast tracks naturalisation of foreign-born religious minorities of all faiths in South Asia except Islam, triggered massive unrest in India after it was passed in December last year.
In the months since the law was enacted, New Delhi and other areas of India have been rocked by anti-Muslim violence.
In February, Delhi’s worst religious riots in decades left more than 50 dead, two-thirds of them Muslims. A local BJP lawmaker was accused of being a main instigator.
India has so far recorded under 50,000 cases of Covid-19 and fewer than 1,700 deaths related to coronavirus, but experts say the country is not testing enough people.
India’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown was the biggest in the world covering 1.3 billion people.
The government credits its strict shutdown of almost all activity since late March with keeping the official tally of Covid-19 cases to relatively low.
But the lockdown also resulted in misery for millions of workers in India’s vast informal sector left suddenly jobless, and dealt a major blow to Asia’s third-biggest economy.