Video: Karnataka panchayat bans and ostracises Muslims over COVID-19 stigma

In a video, a man is seen beating a drum and saying that Muslims cannot enter the village.
Video: Karnataka panchayat bans and ostracises Muslims over COVID-19 stigma
Video: Karnataka panchayat bans and ostracises Muslims over COVID-19 stigma

In Ankanahalli village in Ramanagara district of Karnataka, a communally divisive message has begun to spread even as the lockdown continues.

In a video which has since gone viral, a man is seen beating a drum and saying, “Listen everyone! The Gram panchayat (local village administration) is making this announcement. No Muslims (Sahibs) should come into the village. No one should work for Muslims. If you do, you should pay a fine of Rs 500 to Rs 1000.”

As the video has become viral, the local police were forced to take action. The police have booked the gram panchayat head, Mahesh, for spreading the communal message.

Mahesh, the president of the gram panchayat had held a meeting with the other gram panchayati members and then the order was passed, the local police told TNM.

While Mahesh is absconding, the police have arrested two others, Rajesh, the person who made the video and made it viral on Facebook and Whatsapp, as well as Ramaiah, the person who was hired to beat the drums and make the announcement to the public. Ramaiah went on foot to make the announcement to those who come under the Ankanahalli gram panchayat.

Communal tensions have flared up in many parts of Karnataka after inflammatory media reports that coronavirus was being 'spread by Muslims', following a meeting held by the Tablighi Jamaat congregation, held at Delhi’s Nizamuddin. Only 43 of the active cases of COVID-19 in Karnataka were originally those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat meeting, according to government data. The numbers vary from state to state and in states like Tamil Nadu for instance, a large number of attendees have tested positive for COVID-19.

The gram panchayat has passed the anti-Muslim order despite Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa warning that stern action would be taken against those who make communally divisive messages regarding the coronavirus pandemic. He had said that coronavirus does not have a particular caste or religion, but infects everyone.

TNM had previously reported that Muslim volunteers distributing food packets to those adversely by the lockdown in Bengaluru were heckled and harassed. In another incident in Bagalkote district, locals humiliated some visibly Muslim men for fishing. They made the Muslims beg with folded hands for them to be let off.

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