Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA Suresh Tiwari has sparked controversy after he allegedly told people in Deoria district “not to purchase vegetables from Muslim vendors” amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a video that has gone viral, the legislator from the district’s Barhaj constituency was seen saying, “Keep one thing in mind, I am telling everyone openly, no one should purchase vegetables from Miyas [Muslims]”.
Government officials are also present in the gathering.
मा० मुख्यमंत्री @myogiadityanath जीपूरा देश इस समय covid 19(कोरोना) से जंग लड़ रहा
ये @BJP4UP के बरहज विधायक सुरेश तिवारी जी अपने विधानसभा में हिन्दू मुस्लिम का बीज बोने में लगे हुये है,@Uppolice @deoriapolice तुरन्त कार्यवाही की जाये इनपर। pic.twitter.com/4e1u6FKjeZ
— Murli Manohar Jaiswal (@Murlimanoharjai) April 22, 2020
The BJP leader’s statement comes two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people not to communalise COVID-19. The Health Ministry had also stated that no community or area should be blamed or targeted for Coronavirus spread.
However, on being asked about his remarks, Tiwari questioned reporters if he had said anything wrong.
Admitting to his remarks, the UP MLA said: “I was in my constituency and I was interacting with a group of 10-12 people. We started having a conversation over the lockdown. I was told that Muslim vendors who are selling vegetables are spitting on them.”
“So I told them that I cannot do anything but they should avoid buying from these vendors to make sure that they don’t get coronavirus. When people are asking what to do…. what should a MLA say? Did I say anything wrong? Why make it a big issue?” he was quoted as saying by NDTV.
“(AIMIM chief Asaduddin) Owaisi says objectionable things about Hindus. No one bothers and an MLA just told people in his constituency something for their benefit and so much of an issue has happened,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to reports, state BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said the party does not endorse such statements. The party would take cognisance of the matter and question Tiwari about the circumstances in which he made the remarks, he added.
Following the Tablighi Markaz fiasco, Muslims have been reportedly targeted on social media as well as in person.
The Tablighi Jamaat congregation held in March in Delhi’s Nizamuddin has reportedly contributed to 30 per cent of the total Coronavirus cases in the country. India witnessed a surge in the number of cases after more than 1,000 people linked to the controversial Delhi mosque event tested positive. At least 17 states have reported COVID-19 cases linked to the gathering.