Covid-19 slur on Muslims to be erased from Indian book

Authors of medical reference book apologize publicly on social media for contents regarding Muslim group

Anadolu Agency March 18, 2021
A woman speaks inside a waiting zone area at a health clinic where Covid-19 vaccination is being given to healthcare workers in Kolkata, India, February 1, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE


Authors and publishers of a revised Indian medical reference book have apologized after objections were raised over its contents portraying last year's gathering of Muslim group Tablighi Jamaat in New Delhi in an “inappropriate manner.”

The Students Islamic Organization of India, the students' wing of socio-religious organization Jamaat-e-Islami, had raised concerns and approached authors of the book, Essentials of Medical Microbiology, Apurba Sankar Sastry and Dr. Sandhya Bhat, as well as publisher, Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers.

The book mentioned the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in one of the instances, stating that it was attended by “9,000 Indians from different states and over 960 foreigners from 40 countries, most cases were asymptomatic and were detected positive after they returned home, and led to several clusters of cases in various states in India.”

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In another reference, it stated that “an explosive outbreak of COVID-19 occurred with 4,000 cases” following the Tablighi Jamaat congregation.

After the outcry, the authors and publishers have announced that the corrected version of the book will be released soon. “Will be coming out with the corrected version soon,” the publisher wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

In March and April last year, Muslims were targeted in different parts of the country following reports of a local outbreak of COVID-19 at a mid-March Tablighi Jamaat gathering. Subsequently, cases were registered against foreign and Indian nationals in different parts of the country who were part of the gathering.

The Indian courts, however, are now quashing the cases against the members. In September last year, a court judgment even stated that the accused were made "scapegoats."

While an employee from Jaypee publisher refused to comment on the matter on Tuesday, author Apurba Sankar Sastry told Anadolu Agency that in the unsold copies of old print, they would be adding an errata page.

“It was completely unintentional, and we have changed the matter in the next reprint of the book,” he said in an email response.

He and co-author Dr. Sandhya Bhat have also issued a public apology on social media.

Office-bearers of the students' body say the contents regarding the Tablighi Jamaat members were “inappropriate.”

“When we found out, we approached the authors and publishers, and they accepted their mistakes and agreed to make changes,” student leader Musaddiq Ul Moid told Anadolu Agency.

He went on to say: "Even the Supreme Court and the Bombay High Court have condemned such inappropriate mistakes and asked the authorities concerned to undo the damage done. It is extremely unfortunate."


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