1.When it became clear that Ramzan will have to be observed by Muslims from within their homes, what sort of coordination went into ensuring that social distancing was maintained by the community during this period.
Ans:- Due to Corona pandemic, after taking various effective measures to deal with the situation, the Central Government announced the first nationwide lockdown from 25th March to 14th April, 2020. Then it was extended till May 3rd. And now lockdown-3 has been extended till 17th May. Lockdowns have ensured several places have now become Corona-free and India is successful till now in ensuring there is no community transmission which was a major challenge for most of the other countries of the world. The Holy month of Ramadan started on 25th April. All the mass gatherings including social, religious and political gatherings had been suspended in the country. All most all the countries including Muslim nations stopped mass gatherings at Mosques and other religious places.
I have been in constant touch with all the stake holders to ensure all the guidelines of lockdown and social distancing are strictly and honestly followed during the Holy month of Ramadan in India. I personally talked to state waqf boards, religious leaders, representatives of social organisations and other stake holders to create awareness among the Muslims so that they offer prayers and fulfil other religious responsibilities including “Iftaar” during the Ramadan staying inside their homes.
We are happy that by and large every section of the Muslim community in India has been strictly and honestly following the guidelines of lockdown and social distancing during the ongoing holy month of Ramadan. State waqf boards, religious leaders and social organisations, in cooperation and coordination with local administration have, ensured that lockdown and social distancing is being implemented in toto.
2. The government has been in touch with religious leaders to ensure social distancing during festivals? How have the community leaders responded?
Ans:- Ever since the lockdown was announced, we have been regularly interacting with all the state waqf boards, religious leaders and representatives of various social organisations to ensure awareness regarding importance of lockdown and social distancing for health and well-being of the people. On the occasion of Shab-e-Barat on 8th-9th April, the India Muslims followed these guidelines by offering prayers and performing other religious rituals staying inside their homes. Almost all the Muslim religious leaders across the country have appealed to the Muslim community to strictly follow the guidelines of the Government and contribute in the fight against Corona pandemic during the Holy month of Ramadan.
The Central Waqf Council, the regulatory body of state waqf boards in India, has played a key role in creating awareness among the people regarding social distancing and lockdown guidelines while offering prayers during Ramadan. On 16th April, 2020, I interacted with Chairmen and senior officials of more than 30 state waqf boards, religious leaders and representatives of various social organisations through video conferencing and appealed and instructed them to ensure strict and honest implementation of lockdown, curfew and social distancing during the holy month of Ramadan in view of Corona pandemic. More than 7 lakh registered Mosques, Eidgah, Imambada, Dargah and other religious, social institutions come under the state waqf boards across the country.
Chairmen and senior officials from state waqf boards such as Uttar Pradesh (Shia & Sunni), Andhra Pradesh, Bihar (Shia & Sunni), Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar, Assam, Manipur, Rajasthan, Telangana, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Mahrashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand and others had participated in the video conferencing.
The entire country is religiously following the guidelines of lockdown and social distancing on the appeal of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Any type of carelessness can be harmful for us, our family, the society and the entire country.Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s decision to implement lockdown well in advance has been lauded by the entire world. The decision of nationwide lockdown was timely and effective. All the leaders across the world are not only praising Shri Modi’s farsightedness, activeness and commitment to health and well-being of the people but are also taking inspirations from him.
3. With the Haj houses being turned into quarantine facilities, and the Haj and Umrah being suspended for the time, how many months do you reckon it would take before people are allowed to go on the pilgrimage again.
Ans:- Sixteen Haj Houses across the country have been provided to the various state governments for isolation and quarantine facilities. By the end of January itself, the Union Minority Affairs Ministry had proposed the state governments to utilise these Haj Houses as per their requirements. We have made arrangements in these Haj Houses to facilitate Corona affected persons for quarantine in different states.
4. Hate messages on social media and by leaders within your own party (for instance the UP MLA of BJP who said vegetables shouldn't be bought from Muslim vendors) have increased since the Tabhlighi Jamaat incident, despite PM personally appealing for communal harmony. Why do you think this is so.
Ans:- Any type of nefarious activity to disturb and destroy harmony and peace of the society is unpardonable. Any type of anti-social activity on social media is neither in the interest of the society nor the country. Our party has taken necessary action against any person of the party if he is involved in such activity. As far as the Tablighi Jamaat is concerned, their “Criminal Act” have put a large number of people in trouble.
But amazingly, instead of being ashamed of their “sin”, they tried to justify it. However, the whole community cannot be held guilty for the "crime" of one organisation or one person. The onus lies on the person or the organisation who committed this “sin”.Whatever that organisation did, criminal negligence or crime, most Muslim religious leaders, organisations have strongly reacted to it, condemned it and called for action against it. Entire community cannot be held responsible for one person or one organisation's crime.
All the conspiracies to create misinformation and rumours are nefarious design to weaken the fight against Corona. We should work united to win this fight against Corona by defeating any type of rumour, misinformation and conspiracy. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the entire country is united in fight against Corona by breaking all barriers of caste, religion and region.
5. Various dignitaries from Gulf countries have been alleging that India is facing increasing ‘Islamophobia’. What are your views
Ans: There is not a single incident of discrimination against any section of the society including Minorities in the Modi Government. Socio-economic, religious, Constitutional, educational rights of every section of the society are absolutely safe and secure in India. All the sections including Minorities are strongly moving forward on the path of “Development with Dignity” under the Modi Government.I have no complain against any foreign organisation or person. My concern is with those “bogus bashing brigades” with different shades and colours, sitting in our country, who are trying to defame India through “fake, fabricated propaganda” and “self-created misinformation campaign to mislead the people”.
If we look at the performance of the Government led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi from 2014, we can say that the Modi Government has been committed to “Inclusive Empowerment and Prosperity”. The Modi Government has been working with commitment to “Development without Discrimination”. The Modi Government has been working to ensure “happiness in eyes and prosperity in life” of every needy by breaking the barriers of religion and region.
When our Government provided 2 crore houses to poor, 31 per cent beneficiaries are from Minority community. Our Government provided electricity to 6 lakh villages of the country which include more than 39 per cent Minority community villages. Our Government provided benefits to 22 crore farmers under ‘’Kisan Samman Nidhi” which include more than 33 per cent farmers belonging to Minority communities. About 37 per cent of more than 8 crore beneficiaries of “Ujjwala Yojna” providing free gas connection are Minorities. Our Government provided easy loans to about 24 crore people under “Mudra Yojna” for economic activities and more than 36 per cent beneficiaries are from Minority communities. Besides, Minorities have also been benefitted significantly from other welfare schemes related to water, electricity, road, education, employment and employment opportunities.
6. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has designated India as a “country of particular concern” and has claimed that the government “allowed violence against minorities”. Your response?
Ans:- No government of the world can permit and afford violence or riots on its soil. There were some incidents in which some forces who were “frustrated and depressed” due to the atmosphere of peace, prosperity and harmony under the Modi Government. Such forces tried to disturb and destroy this atmosphere of peace and prosperity. Action is being taken against such forces and such people. Whoever is involved in this nefarious design to disturb the atmosphere of development, will not go unpunished.
7. In some corona hotspots like Indore, more members of the minority community have lost their lives to coronavirus pandemic than members of the majority community, why do you think this is so?
Ans:- See, we have to deal with Corona pandemic as a global challenge. It’s not about Majority community or Minority community. Corona virus doesn’t see religion or caste of a person. If people died in Arab countries, European nations or African countries or any part of the world due to Corona pandemic, the victims were counted as Corona affected persons. But it’s very unfortunate that, in India some people are trying to see Corona victims through the “Spectacles of Communalism”.
8. A lot of victims of North East Delhi communal violence who were living in refugee camps are suffering again because those camps were closed and relief work stopped because of social distancing measures. Your comments?
Ans:- The Central Government, in cooperation and coordination with all the state governments including the Delhi Government is providing all the necessary aid to the needy during the ongoing challenges of Corona pandemic. The Central Government led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had started preparations regarding Corona pandemic much earlier. When in January 2020, discussion on Corona was at very initial stage, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had started working on effective roadmaps to deal with the possible Corona problem. The World Health Organisation had declared Corona a pandemic on 11th March 2020. But 2 weeks before the World Health Organisation declaring Corona a pandemic; India had started screening of those people coming by international flights at the airports. Isolation for 2 weeks was made compulsory for those coming from foreign countries on or after 1 March 2020.
When the world was discussing intensity of Corona, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was engaged in necessary preparations for the days ahead, be it import of health equipment, testing centres, preparation of quarantine-isolation centres by the Army on January 31st itself, preparation regarding health safety, the Defence Ministry’s move to preparing isolation centres at Suratgarh, Jaisalmer, Jhansi, Jodhpur, Chennai, Kolkata, Devlali etc to keep those coming from abroad.
The Navy arranged isolation facilities at their hospitals in Mumbai, Cocchi, Vizag and others. Two storey isolation was made at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. The Central Government made quarantine facilities at more than 100 government and private hospitals across the country. The state governments were also told to ensure similar effective arrangements. Lockdown in India was implemented much before other Corona affected nations of the world. Lockdown in a nation of about 130 crore people was result of farsightedness of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Experts in India and the entire world lauded the decision of lockdown and said that it has estimated to have reduced the number of people infected by Corona by about 150 times. The people especially migrant labourers have faced problem due to some hard steps, but it was necessary in the interest of the health and well-being of the people.
Our Government, in coordination and cooperation with state governments, has taken active and effective measures in the fight against Corona pandemic.Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s decision to implement lockdown well in advance has been lauded by the entire world. The decision of nationwide lockdown was timely and effective. The lockdown has helped take us to contain the growth of Covid-19 cases. The effective measures taken by the Modi Government has shown results at the ground level. Several national and international studies predicting much higher number of Corona cases and fatalities have proved to be wrong after Modi Government’s effective measures taken with the assistance of the state governments, local administration and the people.