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In Modi’s India, coronavirus fallout inflames divisions between Muslims and Hindus

The purple ink stamped, on Iqbal Hussain Siddiqui’s hand by Indian health workers was supposed to ensure he stayed home under quarantine.

But the 66 year-old Siddiqui, an egg seller in Mumbai’s sprawling Dharavi slum rubbed it off as best he could and went back to work.

The mark would have condemned him to being stuck in, an unventilated 1 room home without a toilet.

It was also he claimed, part of an effort by the Hindu nationalist government of PM Narendra Modi to target Muslims like him, using health workers to gather data on the community under the guise of containing the coronavirus pandemic.

PM Modi wants to make Muslims second-class citizens, said Siddiqui, who was ordered to be quarantined after a neighbour tested positive for the coronavirus.

There is no one who is sick, it’s all a lie.

His suspicions were echoed by a half-dozen other Muslims whom Reuters talked to in Dharavi, even though community leaders say they have been trying to convince people that the health workers are in the district to protect them from coronavirus.

As the covid-19 sweeps across India, Modi’s government has responded by imposing a lockdown on the country’s 1.3 billion people.

As of Friday India had announced 437 deaths from the covid-19 disease.

The covid-19 has also exacerbated festering divisions between the country’s Hindus and its sizeable Muslim minority, many of whom have seen their livelihoods threatened by the establishment of quarantine zones in densely packed areas like Dharavi.

There have been at least 71 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Dharavi.

A deep rooted distrust of Modi by Muslims follows months of protests against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims and a crackdown by India in occupied Kashmir.

There is no official breakdown of covid-19 cases by religion.

The tableeghi gathering has been linked to at least 1,000 confirmed covid-19 cases and more than 25,500 people connected to it have been quarantined.

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