New Delhi: In an apparent reference to the recent Tablighi Jamaat congregation that is said to have resulted in a surge in coronavirus cases, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday said that we should not alienate a community due to the mistakes but remain wary of forces inimical to India's interests taking advantage of the situation.
"It was the responsibility of the administration to keep law and order in check. If someone has made a mistake, we should not alienate the community. Community leaders should tell people not to be angry and get misled," Bhagwat said in an online address to the Sangh's workers.
But he immediately followed it up by saying that there are "anti-India forces" who are waiting to use the pandemic to break the country. "Some people with anti-India mindset want to misuse it," he added.
Bahgwat's statement comes as the Muslim missionary group's congregation held in mid-march was blamed for a surge in in coronavirus cases, triggering a wave of violence, business boycotts and hate speech toward the community.
According to government numbers, about one in five cases registered so far have been linked to the missionary meeting.
India's communal fault lines, still stressed by deadly riots over the Citizenship Amendment Act that excludes Muslims, were split wide open by the allegations against Jamaat. Politicians in Bharatiya Janata Party were also quoted on TV and in newspapers describing the Jamaat incident as "corona terrorism".
False news targeting Muslims began to circulate, including video clips purportedly showing congregation members spitting on authorities. The clips were quickly proven to be fake, yet by April 1, the hashtag "CoronaJihad" was trending on Twitter in India.
Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had recently said the entire Muslim community cannot be held responsible for one group's "crime", and asserted that most of the minority community members have condemned the group's action.