The National Hawkers Federation, the National Coalition for Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanisation and a group of activists, academics and lawyers on Wednesday in a statement condemned the reported “discrimination against Muslim vendors” during the lockdown .
“We are alarmed and disheartened to learn that hawkers continue to be intimidated and physically attacked in various parts of the country...These incidents seem to have been spurred by a maelstrom of disinformation and propaganda campaigns being run by motivated agents and spread amongst people through social media... The rumours and hoaxes particularly seem to be targeting those belonging to the Muslim community,” the statement read.
It said Muslim vendors were being discriminated against and being stopped from selling fruits and vegetables in some non-Muslim localities.
“Such behaviour by citizens should be punishable by law as set forth in Section 153(A) and Section 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code. To prevent this there should be a dedicated police helpline number for Muslim vendors or essential service providers so that they can launch complaints of discrimination and prohibition,” it said.
The group demanded that the government carry out awareness campaigns against discrimination and explaining the contribution of the vendors during the pandemic.