Punjab: Dairy farmer Muslim Gujjars say not allowed to enter two villages

Raakhi Jagga
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One person tested positive in Rajgarh village on Sunday. The man had attended the Markaz at Nizammuddin according to police, while he had claimed that he had gone to Hyderabad. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna/File)

The Muslim Gujjar community, which is primarily involved in dairy farming, has approached the Punjab government stating that a number of them are facing discrimination while supplying milk to dairies following the numerous among Tablighis after they attended a gathering in Delhi last month.

They say this discrimination started after two Tablighis whose family members were involved in milk supply work tested positive in Ludhiana district — one in Rajgarh village on Sunday, and one at Chowkimaan village on Monday, following which both villages refused to allow Gujjars to enter, due to which police intervention was needed.

Ashok Sharma, deputy director, animal husbandry department, Ludhiana, said, “We got instructions from the Punjab government to look into the problem of Gujjars. But now it seems to have been resolved. Now no complaints have come. We will get Rajgarh and Chowkimaan villages checked as the patients’ families were supplying milk to dairies or were doing door to door supply. However, milk once pasteurised is safe for drinking and after boiling it is free from all infection.”

In both cases, immediate contacts of both patients are being tested. At the same time, milk suppliers have now been told to get e-passes issued for 5-6 days instead of permission being given on WhatsApp groups as was done earlier. “From Wednesday onwards, only e-passes will be issued by our department. Other advisories like maintaining hygiene or maintaining social distancing stand as it is,” said Sharma.

One person tested positive in Rajgarh village on Sunday. The man had attended the Markaz at Nizammuddin according to police, while he had claimed that he had gone to Hyderabad. Sagar Setia, SDM Payal, said, “We have admitted nine of his family members and contacts in Ludhiana Civil Hospital and their results are awaited. He was not doing milk vending work, his father was involved in that work. However, one person had come to their house to take lassi. We have home quarantined that person. One kirana store owner, from whom they purchased grocery, has also been quarantined. Hence in his case, we have followed all precautions. The remaining milk vendors are doing their work following health advisories.”

The same was the case with the patient in Chowkimaan area. Baljinder Singh Dhillon, SDM, Jagraon, said, “The man in question had come from Jamaat before curfew was imposed and later he kept went around preaching in Samrala and nearby areas. He came back to his house on March 25 or 26 and hence was not involved in milk supply work. His family was doing it till now. We have tested his five family members and all have tested negative. The remaining few persons who were in contact with the patient have been home quarantined.”

Angrez Singh, president of the Haibowal Dairy Association, said, “We have been told to maintain hygiene and social distancing, and we are doing that...dairy farmers are following all advisories and milk is an essential commodity, hence we are supplying it to every house.”

Mohammad Mustkeem, political secretary of the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, who had complained to Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh too, said, “Gujjars from the Muslim community had been facing problems for the past many days. Now it is being resolved. If some attended the Jamaat in Delhi, it does not mean that everyone from the same community may be infected. Police are rapping persons who are spreading hate.”