India rejects USCIRF criticism of patients’ segregation

India has dismissed criticisms of a US agency expressing concern over media reports about the alleged segregation of patients in a Gujarat hospital based on religious lines and asked it to stop “adding religious color” to the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.“As if its peremptory commentary on religious freedom in India is not enough, the USCIRF is now spreading misguided reports on the professional medical protocols followed to deal with the spread of COVID19 in India,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in response to a media query on a USCIRF tweet on April 16.

“It must stop adding religious colour to our national goal of fighting the pandemic and distract from larger efforts. No segregation is being done in civil hospitals based on religion as clarified by the Gujarat government,” the spokesperson said.In a tweeter post, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had expressed concern over media reports of “Hindu & Muslim patients” being separated at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. “Such actions only help to further increase ongoing stigmatization of Muslims in #India and exacerbate false rumors of Muslims spreading #COVID19,” it said.

Citing the medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr Gunvant H Rathod, the Indian Express had reported that separate wards have been created for Hindu and Muslim patients as per a state government decision, It, however, said that Deputy Chief Minister and Health Minister Nitin Patel denied any knowledge of it when it approached him for comments.It quoted Dr Rathod as saying that “Generally, there are separate wards for male and female patients. But here, we have made separate wards for Hindu and Muslim patients.”According to the Express report, 150 of the 186 people admitted to the hospital were diagnosed positive for coronavirus. And at least 40 of the 150 confirmed cases are Muslims, it said.

Gujarat has reported around 700 confirmed cases and 30 deaths so far

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