Ghazanfar Abbas | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – India witnessed an unprecedented humanitarian and health crises during the longest lockdown worldwide amid Covid-19 pandemic. During this period, Indian Muslims were stigmatised for purportedly spreading the disease on purpose by the government and a section of media.
Braving hate, discrimination and murderous attacks, uncounted Muslim groups and NGOs came forward to help large population of needy and poor fellow Indians in a gesture to serve the nation.
The focus of these Muslim groups while carrying out their respective “Covid-19 Relief Campaigns” was not just distribution of food and dry ration kits but also helping people through helpline, monetary assistance, providing medical assistance such as telemedicine, distribution of PPE kits, sanitisers, masks, setting up quarantine centers and organising blood donation and medical camps and even online career counselling sessions.
Several Muslim groups fanned out across the country to expand their relief and rehabilitation work at pan India level taking a cue from the holy month of Ramzan that promotes charity.
Food Distribution Drives
As a joint collective, Foundation for Poverty Alleviation along with Qasid Foundation, Basti Suraksha Manch, Bhartiye Navedeep Samiti and Citizens Initiative launched “Project UMEED” to run food drive in Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The project focused on homeless, daily wagers, women and windows and benefitted around 33,000 families. The group also arranged buses to ferry 260 migrant labourers to their homes in Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Scholars’ Education and Welfare Academy (SEWA), a group of Muslim youths, distributed around 7,000 food packets and water bottles among migrant labours and poor families during lockdown in Delhi.
Delhi-based Hamaari Sadat Trust distributed cooked food packets and ration in Delhi and rural areas of eastern Uttar Pradesh. “We have used crowd funding method to provide 1,000 ration kits and basic necessities to the needy through our 50 volunteers,” said Mohammad Irshad Alam, founder of the trust.
In the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh, Muslims under “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” banner ran community kitchen for underprivileged sections of the society. On the other hand, Aligarh-based “Unite For Change” provided food to daily wagers travelling by buses. Besides ration, the youth group provided medicine to patients in several cities.
Team Sewa Bihar ran live kitchen to feed poor and marginalised sections of society living roadside in Patna and nearby areas. While in rural areas of Jharkhand, Milli Group, besides distributing ration Kits to the migrant labourers, arranged transport to send them to their homes in UP.
Jaipur-based Helping Hand Foundation that works for marginalised sections distributed 45,223 cooked food packets through live kitchens and 5,223 kits of dry ration in Rajasthan. Naeem Rabbani, vice president of the NGO said, “Besides ration kits, we provided toilet kits in quarantine centres and supported 60 families through direct cash.”
Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) launched #Feed5000Families campaign throuh Zakat Crowd funding platform. Their campaign reached out to more than 3,000 needy families in 90 cities across India.
Iftekhar Shaikh from the association said, “This campaign was launched to amid unprecedented food crisis during the lockdown. Our more than 500 volunteers worked in over 100 cities to reach out to needy people.”
Human Welfare Foundation covered rural and urban areas of a total of 25 states with distribution of over 5,2000 food kits.
NGO Khudai Khidmatghar extended relief work in several states including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Assam Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. Its volunteers distributed hundreds of ration kits and ran community kitchen.
Rizwan Khan, national organiser of the campaign of Khudai Khidmatghar said, “With our 119 volunteers, we gave ration, sanitisers and masks to people. We also disbursed Zakat (charity) fund among needy people belonging to all religious faiths without discrimination.”
Relief in Amphan Disaster
Khudai Khidmatghar also distributed thousands of masks in Assam and helped in rehabilitation of families in affected villages by Amphan storm in West Bengal.
Good Human Foundation ran food drive in several cities and villages of Bengal. the NGO also helped in the regions affected by storm Amphan. Tarpaulins were distributed amongst people who suffered in the natural disaster. Anjuman Mufidul Islam organised medical camps in some cities of Bengal.
During the lockdown, while combating the pandemic, healthcare workers faced an acute shortage of protective gears and thus ran the risk of contracting coronavirus. To help them in this regard, Global Welfare Association for Education (GWAFE) donated washable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to doctors and health workers at several hospitals and clinics across Delhi. GWAFE gave PPE kits to police personnel too.
A medical team of the Rajasthan unit of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind helped bury the dead during the lockdown.
Mumbai-based organization, Anfaal Foundation, carried out numerous relief activities during COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown that included ration distribution to 14,000 families, medical consultation telephonic helpline, quarantine centre for COVID-19 positive patients, financial assistance to needy families to bear medical expenses, providing PPE kits, hot water kettle, oxygen cylinder service to various state departments and authorities in Mumbai and MMR.
Sohel Ajani, founding member of Anfaal Foundation, said, “Besides thousands of food kits, our main focus has been medical assistance. We provided a quarantine centre to Bombay Municipal Corporation. We provided food to the patients in quarantine centre.”
In Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, NGO Unnoticed regularly conducted a blood donation drive for patients throughout the lockdown.
Founder of Unnoticed Mohamad Imteyaz said, “During lockdown we tried our best to arrange or donate blood to needy patients so they don’t die due to shortage of blood.” He was grateful to people from different religious faiths who came forward to donate blood responding to his call through social media.
Awareness & Help to Student Community
Zakat Foundation of India (ZFI), a NGO known for its educational activities for the uplift of religious minorities and other marginalised sections, took various steps to help the people during the lockdown.
“From the very beginning of lockdown, ZFI started making videos on precautionary measures to educate people about the pandemic through social media. Along with distribution of ration, ZFI ran online career counselling sessions for the students preparing for competitive exams,” informed Syed Zafar Mahmood, president of ZFI.
Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) also worked at pan India level. The student body started 1,000 helpline centres especially for student community and migrant labourers.
“With thousands of volunteers at its disposal, the organisation helped around 10,000 students and one lakh homeless people and daily wagers with food and basic needs. The SIO also distributed around two lakh Ramzan and Eid kits,” Labeed Aliya, national president of SIO said.