Muslims turned away from hospital in India ‘unless they can prove they are coronavirus-free’

Reports suggest growing discrimination against minority during pandemic

Rory Sullivan
Monday 20 April 2020 13:40 BST
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Mosques in Mumbai on April 7, 2020, during a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Mosques in Mumbai on April 7, 2020, during a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.

A cancer hospital in India is under investigation after declaring it would only admit Muslim for treatment if they can prove they do not have coronavirus.

The Valentis Hospital in Meerut, a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh, issued an advert saying Muslim patients and their carers were required to provide test results showing they are negative for Covid-19.

The advert stated: “For hospital staff and patients’ security, the hospital administration requests all new Muslim patients that they, and one designated caregiver, get tested for coronavirus and visit the hospital only if their reports are negative.”

Police have served the hospital’s owner with preliminary charges, which allows them to formally start an investigation, according The Indian Express newspaper.

Ajay Sahni, the city’s senior police superintendent, said: “The police learnt that a hospital in the area, through advertisements, was making objectionable comments about a minority community which could lead to unrest.

“The owner/proprietor has been booked and the matter is being investigated.”

In response to the allegations, the hospital’s proprietor said: “The hospital does not discriminate against a particular community. Seventy per cent of our patients are Muslims.

“Due to typing errors or misprints, it appears that a wrong message was sent, for which we issued an apology.”

There have been numerous reports of discrimination against Muslims in India as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, pregnant Muslim woman reportedly lost her baby after a doctor refused her entry to a government hospital in Rajasthan on the grounds of her religion.

The baby died after it was delivered in an ambulance.

The US Committee on International Religious Freedom expressed its “concern” on Wednesday following reports of a hospital in the state of Gujarat segregating its patients into different wards on the basis of religion.

The committee, which is appointed by Congress, said: “Such actions only help to further increase ongoing stigmatisation of Muslims in India and exacerbate false rumours of Muslims spreading Covid-19.”

The media and Hindu nationalist politicians have been accused of unfairly blaming Muslims for spreading Covid-19 after cases emerged among a gathering of Muslim missionaries in New Delhi last month.

Last year, Narendra Modi's government prompted widespread protests by introducing a controversial law which banned Muslim migrants from claiming Indian citizenship.

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