NEW DELHI, India
Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Uttar Pradesh has landed in controversy after a video surfaced showing him asking consumers not to buy vegetables from Muslims amid a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
"Keep one thing in mind. I am telling everyone openly. There is no need to buy vegetables from 'Miyas' [Muslims]," Suresh Tiwari from Deoria town said on the video.
India is facing job losses and hunger because of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown but Muslim vegetable vendors and small shopkeepers are the most severely affected.
Indian Muslims have been targeted in different areas of the country following reports of an outbreak of COVID-19 at a religious gathering in New Delhi last month that was organized by Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary group.
Falsified reports and rumors accusing the Muslim community in general of spreading the virus have spread since the meeting.
"COVID-19 does not see race, religion, color, caste, creed, language or border before striking. Our response and conduct thereafter should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood. We are in this together," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last week.
Samajwadi Party spokesman Anurag Bhadoriya said authorities should file a case against Tiwari for talking against a particular community.
“At this time of crisis, he is busy spreading hate against a particular community. This shows how much he cares about humanity,” Bhadoriya told Anadolu Agency.
Party spokesman from Uttar Pradesh said everyone should avoid speaking such things.
“It is wrong to speak in such a way when we are fighting against pandemic. This division is not good for the society,” Rakesh Tripathi told Anadolu Agency.