Skip to main content

Minority hawkers being 'targeted' under lockdown pretext despite WHO warning

Counterview Desk
The National Hawkers’ Federation (NHF), in a statement, condemning the alleged discrimination against Muslim vendors during the Covid-19 lockdown, has said that this is part of the atmosphere of hate against the minorities, currently spread through social media by profiling individuals and groups in order to stop, harass and heckle them by vigilante groups.
Signed by its office bearers from across different states and leading intellectuals, the statement insists, hawkers are “a key part of our supply chain”, as they play “a crucial role in improving last-mile access for millions of people every day. It is to their credit that they are continuing to their jobs in face of enormous personal risks, something that we all should be grateful about.”
It tells the government, “The protection of these hardworking people is of paramount concern. We owe it to these hardworking people, now more than ever, that they are allowed to carry out their small businesses without any fear or hindrance.”

Text:

We are alarmed and disheartened to learn that hawkers continue to be intimidated and physically attacked in various parts of the country. We have come across several news reports documenting such incidents as well as received first-hand complaints from many members of our organisation/ association/ union/ collective. They are being profiled and surveilled, stopped and harassed, and heckled and beaten up by vigilante groups who are acting with complete impunity.
These incidents seem to have been spurred by a maelstrom of disinformation and propaganda campaigns being run by motivated agents and spread amongst people through social media like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and WhatsApp.
The rumours and hoaxes particularly seem to be targeting those belonging to the Muslim community. Cursory examination of the sampled videos, images, and text messages, which are being widely circulated suggests that Muslim hawkers are being blamed for the spread of the Coronavirus, resulting in their stigmatisation.
It bears remembering that the Emergency Programme Director of the World Health Organisation, recently reminded the global political leadership that countries should not profile novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in terms of religion or any other criteria and cautioned against profiling the “the cases on the basis of racial, religious and ethnic lines” on April 6, 2020. We have to remember that the virus does not care where someone was born, their status, the colour of their skin, nor the gods they worship.
In the middle of the nationwide lockdown, when curtailed movement and access to basic necessities is proving to be challenge for all of us, these hawkers are our veritable lifelines. To target and attack them is not only a violation of their dignity and most basic rights but also an unconscionable act on the part of our citizenry.
It is extremely unfortunate that a section of our society, whose livelihood is completely dependent on their daily earnings, are being subjected to humiliation and violence in the middle of one of the most unprecedented and challenging public health crisis facing the country.
They are a key part of our supply chain. They play a crucial role in improving last-mile access for millions of people every day. It is to their credit that they are continuing to their jobs in face of enormous personal risks, something that we all should be grateful about.
The protection of these hardworking people is of paramount concern. We owe it to these hardworking people, now more than ever, that they are allowed to carry out their small businesses without any fear or hindrance.

Demands: 

  • Public campaign raising awareness on non-discrimination of vendors: The Government, Union and State, should come out with strong messages that do not condone religion based discrimination especially in the time of a health and economic crisis in the country. There should be constant progressive notifications and orders being released by the Government to facilitate essential service provision to all people through fruit and vegetable street vendors/hawkers with all the safety and health precautions.
  • Emphasising the valuable contribution of fruit and vegetable vendors during the COVID lockdown: Street vendors hawking fruits and vegetables along with other essential goods are absolutely essential to the depleted food economy as of now, as not every home has access to a departmental grocery store. In this unprecedented scenario, to discriminate against Muslim vendors is an act of ignorance which should be punishable by law. 
  • Guiding the media to not propagate anti-Muslim rhetoric: The government should try and ensure the minimising of anti-Muslim and communal reporting of the Covid crisis through most media outlets and should stop using one incident to demonise an entire com-munity, especially those members of society which are essential service providers. 
We therefore call upon the political leadership to send out a strong message among the people to cease hostility against hawkers and offer them due courtesy and cooperation.
We call upon the law enforcement forces to proactively put a stop to incidents of intimida-tion, harassment, and violence and take exemplary action against those who break the law.
We call upon the mainstream media, a key stakeholder in all crisis communication, to play a positive role by working in the interest of the most vulnerable and marginalised.
Finally, we call upon our fellow citizens to realise the gravity of the situation and play a con-structive role in helping the country tide over this crisis.
We urge everyone to keep track of government advisories and strictly follow the prescribed safety protocols to protect themselves and others from the pandemic.

Comments

TRENDING

Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

ASI has 'no funds' to protect five centuries old Goa church, a World Heritage Site

Counterview Desk
The century-old All-India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest Laity movement in Asia, has blamed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for neglecting the historic Bom Jesu church by keeping its ceilings  open to the vagaries weather, with no steps  taken to protect the five century old monument from damage on account of impending rains on the lame excuse that there are "no funds". In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, AICU simultaneously asks the Government of India to devise a "comprehensive" national social security safety net, universal health Insurance and medical Infrastructure so that the “calamity” that has befalenl millions of migrant labour and jobless rural and urban poor in “the Covid pandemic-driven lockdown is “never repeated.”

Gujarat govt move for fewer Covid-19 tests 'pushing' people to edge: Activists, academics

By Our Representative
About 100 concerned citizens, including top social activists and experts, have strongly protested against the Gujarat government’s alleged move to “dictate” the medical community to “reduce” Covid-19 tests in order to suggest that the state has fewer number of cononavirus positive patients, stating, this is nothing but “criminal negligence” which would “push people towards death without their knowledge.”

Withdraw sedition charges against three young women activists: 1100 feminists

Counterview Desk
About 1,100 feminists from all over India – organisations and individuals across religion, class, caste, ethnicity, ability, sexuality and genders – have issued a solidarity statement condemning what they have called “the targeted crackdown on Muslims and women activists in Delhi”, who were at the forefront of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Tablighis or Namaste Trump? Rupani must 'clarify' on origin of Covid-19 in Gujarat

By Mujahid Nafees* In his video communication on April 24, 2020, chief minister Vijay Rupani informed us that in the month of March the Gujarat government had quarantined 6,000 people returning from abroad in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. He further asserted that the spread of Covid-19 was caused by the tablighis returning from Nizamuddin in Delhi. His statements were widely publicized and given front page coverage by some local dailies.

Coping with Covid-19? Options before small, marginal farmers of rainfed regions

By Biswanath Sinha, Kuntal Mukherjee*
The global crisis due to Covid-19 has hit after reaching in western Europe. India’s response to curtail the spread of the disease was quite decisive. It announced a Janata curfew on the March 22, followed by a complete national lockdown from the midnight of March 24.

Roll back full lockdown, it's being used to 'brutally' assault, beat people: PUCL to Modi

By Our Representative India’s premier human rights organization, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), in a 3,600 word statement, has demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in consultation with chief ministers, should immediately consider rolling back of the full lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, insisting, if it all, India should “have calibrated, limited lockdown areas.”