‘Baseless And Irresponsible’: Government Refutes Reports On Possible Religion-Wise Mapping Of Covid-19 Spread

by Harshil Mehta - May 14, 2020 01:04 PM +05:30 IST
‘Baseless And Irresponsible’: Government Refutes Reports  On Possible Religion-Wise Mapping Of Covid-19 SpreadHeadlines of the reports published by The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle. 
  • The ministry of health and family welfare has publicly rejected the report.

The number of positive cases of Coronavirus in India has reportedly crossed 75,000 with an estimated 2,500 deaths.

Amidst the crisis, there have been several reports by mainstream media as well as portals that have been refuted by the government and termed ‘fake news’.

On 10 May, English daily The Asian Age published a report titled ‘Central government mulls community-based coronavirus mapping’.

The report, published on the front page, said that “highly placed sources” in New Delhi told the newspaper’s correspondent that the idea of religion-based mapping came up during the recent closed-door meetings at the highest level.

The report mentioned that “centre feels that data bank of community-wise Covid-19 numbers will help its containment measures and in tackling future pandemics in the country.”

This alleged step, as per the report, came after “BJP leaders have openly blamed Muslims for the rise of Coronavirus cases across the country”.

Asian Age newspaper on 10 May 2020
Asian Age newspaper on 10 May 2020
Asian Age

A similar report was published by Deccan Chronicle too, again citing “highly placed sources”.

However, Lav Agarwal, who regularly does media briefing on behalf of MOHFW, has rejected the reports, calling them “baseless”.

“It is very irresponsible news,” Agarwal was seen as saying in a clip put out by Press Information Bureau (PIB) on 11 May. “The Supreme Court has already said that no fake news should be published, and news should be published after doing fact-checks.”

Agarwal added, “Coronavirus does not affect a particular religion, a race or an area. This disease only comes when we behave irresponsibly or when don’t follow dos and don’ts.”

Earlier, the government has refuted an Indian Express report titled “Ahmedabad Hospital splits COVID wards on faith.”

The report was refuted by the health department of Gujarat government.

Similarly, a portal reported that only Muslims were being quarantined in Prayagraj, which was refuted by the Prayagraj police.

The portal later deleted the report and apologised for it.

Harshil Mehta is a columnist who writes on international relations, diplomacy, and national issues. He tweets @MehHarshil.
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