Over 100 former civil servants write  open letter to  CMs for ensuring safety of Muslims  

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By Special Correspondent

New Delhi: Expressing grave concern over the communalization of  Covid-19, issue, as many as 101 former civil servants from across the country urged  all the chief ministers and Lieutenant Governors  to stop   the harassment of Muslims.

The former All-India and Central Services officers,  under the aegis  of the Constitutional Conduct Group,  have written an open letter  against the attitude of hostility with which the Muslim community has been met with, ever since the news of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation spread across India.

The letter also identified the role of sections of media in worsening what was already a communally charged scenario.

” The action of the Jamaat in organising such an event, ignoring the Delhi Government’s advisories was, without question, misguided and condemnable. However, the action of the media in communalising it and extending it to the Muslim community as a whole is utterly irresponsible and reprehensible,” it read.

The letter aims to chart out a path of action for state governments that would assuage the anxieties of the minority community and also see to it that their daily needs are fulfilled during the lockdown.

The letter cited many incidents of Islamophobia in the country and asked  the CMs  to ensure safety of Muslims.

“We request you to instruct all public functionaries to be particularly vigilant to prevent social boycott of any community in the State..”

Text of the letter 

“We are a group of former civil servants belonging to the All-India and Central Services, from all over India. As a group, we do not subscribe to any particular political ideology but rather focus on issues that have a bearing upon the Indian Constitution. We have been holding Conclaves and writing Open Letters on matters of concern since we came together as the Constitutional Conduct Group in June 2017.

It is with much anguish that we bring to your attention reports of harassment of Muslims in some parts of the country, particularly following the meeting of the Tablighi Jamaat in March in the Nizamuddin area of New Delhi.

The Jamaat was criticised for ignoring the principles of social distancing when cases of COVID-19 had started emerging in the country. Although this was hardly the only incident of such gatherings, both political and religious, sections of the media hastened to give a communal colour to COVID-19, including attributing motives to the Tablighi Jamaat in spreading the virus to different parts of the country.  The action of the Jamaat in organising such an event, ignoring the Delhi Government’s advisories was, without question, misguided and condemnable. However, the action of the media in communalizing it and extending it to the Muslim community as a whole is utterly irresponsible and reprehensible.

Such coverage has fuelled hostility towards the Muslim community in parts of the country. Fake video clips have been doing the rounds showing Muslim vendors spitting on the fruits and vegetables that they have for sale – purportedly to spread the Covid-19 disease. Cases have been reported of vegetable vendors being asked their religion, even being assaulted when they mention Muslim names.   Video recordings of such incidents are circulating through social media at this time. The fear and insecurity generated by the pandemic is sought to be channelled into the “othering” of the Muslim community in different places to keep them out of public spaces, purportedly to protect the rest of the population!

There are reports from Hoshiarpur that Muslim Gujjars who traditionally migrate from Punjab to Himachal Pradesh with their cattle were denied entry at the border by the police due to apprehension of tension created by mobs on the other side to prevent their entry. Photographs of men, women and children forced to take shelter on the banks of the Swan river, where hundreds of litres of milk had to be dumped following this blockade, have appeared. Photos from a market in Biharsharif, Nalanda district, Bihar, show pictures of flags being affixed to the carts of non-Muslim vendors with exhortations that buyers should only purchase produce from such carts. These seemingly isolated incidents appear to be building up to an ostracism of Muslims.

More disturbingly, reports of discrimination are also coming in from various places about Muslims being turned away from hospitals and health facilities.  It is reported that on April 8, Fauzia Shaheen, a weaver from the Muslim-dominated area of Madanpura in Varanasi, who was experiencing labour pains, was repeatedly turned away from clinics and hospitals including from the Sir Sunderlal Hospital at the Banaras Hindu University, even after she delivered a baby outside the hospital. Following an outcry in the social media, police registered a case against the management of a cancer hospital in Meerut that had put out an advertisement saying that it would treat Muslims only when they produce a report showing that they have tested negative for coronavirus. In Ahmedabad, we learn that separate wards have been designated for Muslim patients of Coronavirus.

In addition, there are reports of the special entitlements of rations and cash that governments have sanctioned at this time being denied to Muslim families.

The entire country is going through unprecedented trauma. We can endure, survive and overcome the challenges that this pandemic has imposed on us only by remaining united and helping each other. We laud those Chief Ministers who have been resolutely secular in their approach both in general and, in particular, in relation to this pandemic.

We should remember that traditionally India has maintained good relations with Muslim nations and has been seen as their friend.  Millions of our fellow citizens live and work in these countries.  There has been serious concern expressed in these countries about the recent developments.  We should ensure, through our non-discriminatory action and relief measures, that the minorities have nothing to fear in India. This will help assuage the misgivings of these countries and avoid any consequential detriment to the prospects of the sizeable Indian diaspora there.

We call upon you to reassure all the people in your State that by following the instructions for social distancing and the practices regarding using face covering and hand washing, they can keep safe from COVID-19. It needs to be emphasised that there is no truth whatsoever in the rumours that any particular group has more infections than others in our country. Incidents like the one in Karnataka, where three Hindu youth created panic at a police check post in Mandya district on April 8, by posing as Muslims with coronavirus infection, need to be dealt with firmly, as was done in this case by the Karnataka police.

We request you to instruct all public functionaries to be particularly vigilant to prevent social boycott of any community in the State and to ensure that all the entitlements including medical and hospital care, rations and financial assistance are available equally to all those in need.

At this time of grave national and international crisis, we count on your leadership in bringing the people of India together rather than allowing the deepening of fissures in our country.”

Satyameva Jayate

Yours faithfully,

Constitutional Conduct Group (101 signatories, as below)

 

1. Anita Agnihotri IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, GoI
2. Salahuddin Ahmad IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
3. Shafi Alam IPS (Retd.) Former Director General, National Crime Records Bureau, GoI
4. S.P. Ambrose IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
5. Anand Arni R&AW (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
6. Mohinderpal Aulakh IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police (Jails), Govt. of Punjab
7. G. Balachandhran IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
8. Vappala Balachandran IPS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
9. Gopalan Balagopal IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
10. Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
11. Sharad Behar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
12. Aurobindo Behera IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Odisha
13. Madhu Bhaduri IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Portugal
14. Meeran C Borwankar IPS (Retd.) Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI
15. Sundar Burra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
16. K.M. Chandrasekhar IAS (Retd.) Former Cabinet Secretary, GoI
17. Rachel Chatterjee IAS (Retd.) Former Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh
18. Tishyarakshit Chatterjee IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Environment & Forests, GoI
19. Kalyani Chaudhuri IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
20. Anna Dani IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
21. Surjit K. Das IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand
22. Vibha Puri Das IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI
23. P.R. Dasgupta IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
24. Nareshwar Dayal IFS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
25. Pradeep K. Deb IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI
26. Nitin Desai IES (Retd.) Former Secretary and Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI
27. Keshav Desiraju IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
28. M.G. Devasahayam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
29. Sushil Dubey IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Sweden
30. A.S. Dulat IPS (Retd.) Former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office, GoI
31. K.P. Fabian IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Italy
32. Arif Ghauri IRS (Retd.) Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)
33. Gourisankar Ghosh IAS (Retd.) Former Mission Director, National Drinking Water Mission, GoI
34. Suresh K. Goel IFS (Retd.) Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, GoI
35. S. Gopal IPS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, GoI
36. Meena Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
37. Ravi Vira Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
38. Wajahat Habibullah IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI and Chief Information Commissioner
39. Deepa Hari IRS (Resigned)
40. Sajjad Hassan IAS (Retd.) Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur
41. Siraj Hussain IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture, GoI
42. Kamal Jaswal IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
43. Najeeb Jung IAS (Retd.) Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi
44. Rahul Khullar IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
45. K. John Koshy IAS (Retd.) Former State Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal
46. Ajai Kumar Indian Forest Service (Retd.) Former Director, Ministry of Agriculture, GoI
47. Brijesh Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
48. P.K. Lahiri IAS (Retd.) Former Executive Director, Asian Development Bank
49. Aloke B. Lal IPS (Retd.) Former Director General (Prosecution), Govt. of Uttarakhand
50. Subodh Lal IPoS (Resigned) Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI
51. Harsh Mander IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
52. Amitabh Mathur IPS (Retd.) Former Director, Aviation Research Centre and Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
53. Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
54. Dalip Mehta IFS (Retd.) Former Secretary to GoI & Dean, Foreign Service Institute
55. Shivshankar Menon IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser
56. Sonalini Mirchandani IFS (Resigned) GoI
57. Sunil Mitra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
58. Jugal Mohapatra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Rural Development, GoI
59. Deb Mukharji IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
60. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
61. P.G.J. Nampoothiri IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Gujarat
62. P.A. Nazareth IFS (Retd.) GoI
63. Amitabha Pande IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
64. Niranjan Pant IA&AS (Retd.) Former Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General, GoI
65. Alok Perti IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI
66. R.M. Premkumar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
67. S.Y. Quraishi IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Election Commissioner
68. N.K. Raghupathy IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI
69. V.P. Raja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
70. K. Sujatha Rao IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
71. M.Y. Rao IAS (Retd.)
72. Satwant Reddy IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI
73. Vijaya Latha Reddy IFS (Retd.) Former Deputy National Security Adviser, GoI
74. Julio Ribeiro IPS (Retd.) Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania
75. Aruna Roy IAS (Resigned)
76. Manabendra N. Roy IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
77. Deepak Sanan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
78. G. Sankaran IC&CES (Retd.) Former President, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal
79. Shyam Saran IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former Chairman, National Security Advisory Board
80. S. Satyabhama IAS (Retd.) Former Chairperson, National Seeds Corporation, GoI
81. N.C. Saxena IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
82. A. Selvaraj IRS (Retd.) Former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, GoI
83. Ardhendu Sen IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
84. Abhijit Sengupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI
85. Aftab Seth IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Japan
86. Ajay Shankar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. of Industrial Policy & Promotion
87. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
88. Navrekha Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Indonesia
89. Raju Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
90. Har Mander Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, ESI Corporation, GoI
91. Tirlochan Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, GoI
92. Jawhar Sircar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, & former CEO, Prasar Bharati
93. Narendra Sisodia IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI
94. Sanjivi Sundar IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Surface Transport, GoI
95. Parveen Talha IRS (Retd.) Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
96. Thanksy Thekkekera IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Minorities Development, Govt. of Maharashtra
97. P.S.S. Thomas IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
98. Geetha Thoopal IRAS (Retd.) Former General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata
99. Hindal Tyabji IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
100. Ashok Vajpeyi IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi
101. Ramani Venkatesan IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra

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