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

Corporate-political party nexus? Rise and rise of Gautam Adani under Modi regime

By Sandeep Pandey*  In last five years Rs 10,09,510 crore taken as loans by various companies from banks in India have been declared as Non Performing Assets, an euphemism for writing them off. Out of this State Bank of India alone wrote off Rs 2,04,486 crore. Only about 13% of the total written off amount was recovered. Identity of the defaulting borrowers, most of whom are influential corporates, is not revealed. Compare this to the loans taken by farmers. The names of defaulting farmers is displayed on walls in tehsil offices to shame them and some unlucky ones also land up in lock-ups there. On the contrary, a few corporate defaulters have fled the country and quite curiously the authorities didn’t seize their passports like they do with some dissenting intellectuals or activists booked under mostly false cases. Now consider the donations received by political parties in the form of electoral bonds. The identity of the donor need not be revealed even to the Election Commission or i

'Extremist' US Hindu global group funding hate against Indian Churches: NGO groups

Counterview Desk  As many as 14 civil rights and faith-based organizations in co-signing a letter to the US Senators, Representatives, State Governor, and other elected officials have demanded the FBI, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Department of Justice should investigate into Texas-based organization Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) a fundraiser campaign for demolishing churches in India. Co-signed by Federation of Indian American Christian Organization in North America (FIACONA), North American Church of God, Southern Methodist University (SMU) Human Rights Program, Amnesty International - Dallas, World Without Genocide, Center for Pluralism, Genocide Watch, The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Limitless Church, Justice for All, Hindu for Human Rights, North Texas Peace Advocates, Good Citizens of DFW, and the North Texas Islamic Council, the letter has been sent to Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Representatives Michael C Burgess, Pat Fallon, Van Taylor, Terr

Carbon abatement to tackle climate change: India's failure has 'outpaced' its success

By Satorupa Karmakar*  On November 01, 2021, India took a pledge of reaching a carbon-zero stage by 2070, at the COP-26 held in Glasgow, UK. As ‘ambitious’ and dubious it may sound to some, with a short-term delay in renewable energy generation (which gained the pace post-September 2020) and drastic fall in greenhouse gas (GHG) emission level as COVID-19 emerged as a ‘necessary evil’ , the path of India’s clean energy mission could be seen being paved throughout this time. Currently ranked as the third largest GHG emitter in the world, India is projected to demand more energy in coming years due to a large population base (1.3 billion as per 2011 Census data) and primarily coal-based fast-growing economy. Rapid industrialisation in post-colonial developing countries like India, stimulated by a larger and cheaper pool of fossil fuels and labour-force depicted a continuous upsurge in temperature, heavy precipitation in some places with an overall declining rainfall and a burgeoning soc

BJP-RSS trap opposition in 'futile row' around Savarkar, freedom movement

By Prem Singh*  Everything in this article is just a repetition. I have been saying all this since 1991-92. It is obvious that the Congress and the RSS/BJP do not like my ideas. But most socialists, advocates of social justice and communists also dislike my thoughts. I watch their measures and efforts to deal with the present crisis with interest. I respect them and also participate. Yet, the fact it, we fall behind again and again, and the crisis goes ahead. Instead of being a solution-providers, we are seen to be a part of the crisis. How long will this last? Perhaps, if the new generation thinks differently, things may turn for better! 1 To say that modern Indian society and politics are passing through the deepest crisis ever will surely be a repetition. The crisis is deeper than the spreading of communal hatred we witness around us. In fact, the business of communal hatred is flourishing by taking its manure and water from the deep crisis. The crisis of neo-colonial slavery is pro

'Unprecedented rise' of attacks on students of Delhi university by ABVP condemned

Counterview Desk  A statement, sent as an email alert by "concerned teachers and students of Delhi University", referring to a protest organised against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad's (ABVP's), has alleged “brutal” attack on students and teachers demanding the release of civil rights leader Prof GN Saibaba and others from “unjust incarceration.” “We are seeing an unprecedented rise of attacks on the students of our university by the fascist ABVP goons. Almost every week we see our fellow students and activists getting attacked physically by the lackeys of this current Brahmanical Hindutva fascist regime”, the statement claimed. Text : A joint protest was organised by the students and teachers of Delhi University on 2nd of December against the brutal attack by ABVP goons. On 1st of December, activists of Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch (bsCEM), Lawyers Against Atrocities (LAA) and many other organisations as a part of Campaign Against State Repression (CASR),

Nullify environmental release, uproot GM mustard plants: 111 doctors urge Modi

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 111 medical professionals , most of them senior doctors, has expressed concern with regard to human health implications of the genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant (HT) mustard that got approved by Government of India, with indications that it has already been planted in at least six locations. Floated by Dr Rupal M Dalal, a Mumbai-based pediatrician, the letter, even as “welcoming” Modi’s “unprecedented push” towards non-chemical farming in the country for the benefit of environment, nature, consumers and farmers, it said, “HT GM mustard will push the country in the opposite direction.” “A herbicide tolerant crop will put an end to diversity-based cropping, which is important not just for soil health but human health and expose consumers and farmers to a toxic herbicide with serious long term health implications”, it added. The letter seeks the Prime Minister’s urgent intervention to not only withdraw th

Climate change 'can't be fought' with fancy issues: re-engineering cities, green energy

By Shankar Sharma*  "The Hindu" has carried a discussion paper in the form of an interview, Can poor countries afford to go green? Many such articles/ opinion pieces are making the grievous mistake of ignoring a fundamental question: what is the true cost of climate change (CC), and can poor countries, or for that matter any community, afford not to do all that is feasible to address the threats of  CC; instead of wasting our time and resources in endlessly deliberating on the so called "financial/economic costs" of the much needed transition. Such articles seem to focus only on high profile / glamorous/ debatable stuff, and ignore the basic issues which we all can do something or the other to minimise the impacts of CC in the short-term, and which may probably lead to long term solution. The opinion pieces/ discussion, as above, are guilty of conveniently ignoring the basic question: what is the fundamental cause of CC? The answer should be: the unsustainable dema

Enemies of elephants: Odisha real estate agents, ivory smugglers, mining contractors

By Sudhansu R Das  Over centuries the elephant in Odisha has been closely associated with its economy, culture and politics. The state was known for its mighty elephant army which repelled enemy attacks until the end of the 16th century AD. The kings of Odisha were known as Gajapati for their skill and ability to use elephants in the battlefield. Some historians said Odisha had 18,000 war elephants. In the olden time, Odisha had exported fine ivory work to foreign countries. The ancient temple walls have the carvings of an elephant army and the scene of elephants boarded on traditional boita (ship) for transportation. Today the elephants in Odisha are at the receiving end; they are being hunted, poisoned and poached for their tusks. They are branded as trespassers, destroyers of crops and human life; the media paints the situation as human-animal conflict and the debate to show concern for the elephant’s protection has become a meaningless endeavor. The state needs a development vision

Bangladeshi dacoits loot villagers' cattle, yet BSF 'doesn't guard' Ichamati river border

Counterview Desk  Bringing to light the case of one Basudeb Adhikari, who earns livelihood by cattle rearing and working as agricultural labour, a senior human rights activist has pointed towards how in the middle of a September night, Bangladeshi miscreants illegally trespassed into his house, situated near Indo-Bangladesh borders, broke the lock in the gate of the cowshed and stole his cow. Stating that such incidents are not uncommon, Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), Hooghly, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said, the village where this person lives, Pipli, is next to the river Ichamati, which is the international border between two countries. There is no fencing in this area, he said, regretting, here, at the International Border Pillar (IBP) Border Security Force personnel are never posted. This leads to the villagers experiencing severe harassment from hooligans from Bangladesh. Often Bangladeshi mi

Demand to withdraw 'anti-environment, anti-adivasi' forest conservation rules 2022

By Gopinath Majhi*  The Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha, a coalition of adivasis and forest dwellers’ organisations, has sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) raising serious concerns over Forest (Conservation) Rules, 2022, notified by the Centre on June 29.  Contending that recent amendments and a host of executive orders/guidelines issued by the ministry undermine and dilute the FRA and threaten the rights of adivasis and forest dwellers, CSD demands that the 2022 FC Rules should be rescinded forthwith. Demanding withdrawal of such anti-people and anti-environment rules CSD Odisha organised a protest Dharana in front of State Assembly today on 25th November 2022 and submitted memorandums to the Hon’ble Governor of Odisha, Chief Secretary and Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department for conveying our concerns against the FC Rules 2022 to the Central Government for its withdrawal. The memorandums w