Mahendra Bhatt, a ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator of Uttarakhand, has done it again. In a controversial social media post, the BJP law maker from Badrinath assembly segment has advised people to be cautious while visiting barber shops and beauty parlours which opened in the state today. All the barber shops and beauty parlours in the state were closed due to the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic since the month of March.
Apparently targeting barbers belonging to Muslim community, Mahendra Bhatt has advised the general public to go to the barber shops with their own towels and ensure that do not do any ‘wrong’. The people should ensure that ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ is written in barber shops, he said.
In his message, he has tried to convey the message that people should avoid Muslim barbers. A majority of the barber shops in the state even in Garhwal and Kumaon hills are owned by Muslims from neighbouring western Uttar Pradesh.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic and “Islamophobic” outburst by the audio-visual and social media over the presence of large number of persons at Tablighi Jamaat Markaz at Nizamuddin in New Delhi, who contracted the dreaded COVID-19 infection, there have been attempts in the state to target the Muslim barber shops. Lists of Hindu barbers were circulated and appeals made to shun Muslims to avoid contracting COVID-19.
Interestingly, Bhatt had earlier in the month of April come up with an anti-Muslim advisory to the people of the state to avoid COVID-19.
In a Facebook post, he had advised people that the danger of coronavirus has increased due to Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin. He advised the people of Uttarakhand not to buy vegetables from Najibabad and also to be careful of which shop they were buying it from. He further asked people to buy vegetables from the farmers of Uttarakhand only.
In a veiled reference to Muslims without naming them, he asked the people to think before going to the shops of barbers and shoemakers and ‘check whether there is coronavirus or not’.
Suryakant Dhasmana, vice-president of Uttarakhand Congress committee has condemned the statement by the BJP MLA. “The Sangh Parivar is out to divide people for their political gains in these dangerous times,” he said.