India slams US commission for claiming 'religious segregation' in Guj COVID-19 hospital

They said they were concerned over reports of Hindu, Muslim patients being separated

PTI14-04-2020_000288B Representational image

India slammed the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) after it criticised the country on reports of religious segregation at a Gujarat hospital. Reports had emerged yesterday, which the state had denied, that COVID-19 patients in an Ahmedabad government-run hospital were segregated on the basis of their religious identities. "Some reports have appeared in the media that there are separate wards for patients of different religions in Civil Hospital Ahmedabad COVID hospital. These reports are absolutely baseless," the Gujarat health and family welfare department said on Twitter.

The US commission expressed concerns over the way India is fighting the coronavirus pandemic after the report. The commission said it was concerned over the reports of Hindu and Muslim patients being separated in the hospital. "Such actions only help to further increase ongoing stigmatisation of Muslims in India and exacerbate false rumors of Muslims spreading COVID-19," it said. 

The MEA slammed the reports. "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 spread of COVID-19 in India," MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said. He said no segregation of patients is being done in the civil hospital on the basis of religion, as clarified by the Gujarat government. Srivastava said the USCIRF "must stop adding religious colour to our national goal of fighting the pandemic and distract from larger efforts".

The USCIRF had earlier criticised India on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.