With one of the COVID-19 hotspots in Lucknow’s Sadar Bazar called ‘Masjid Ali Jaan and nearby areas’, another one in Wazirganj mentioned as ‘Mohammadiya Masjid and nearby areas’, near Triveni Nagar – ‘Khajoor Wali Masjid and adjoining areas’ and ‘Phool Bagh/Nazarbagh Masjid and adjoining areas’, concerns of alleged ‘divisive exercise’ by Yogi government were raised by the opposition. With the COVID-19 hotspots in Lucknow named after mosques, the opposition alleged that the government in the state was trying to give a communal colour to the illness. Also Read - Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Vows 'Strict Action' Against Culprit After Pregnant Elephant Dies on Being Fed Cracker-Stuffed Pineapple in Malappuram

In an interview with ThePrint, Ajay Kumar, Congress chief of UP said, “The government should be concerned about fighting the disease. It should focus on pinpointing those areas from where more cases are coming. But unable to tackle that it is busy fudging numbers, and to divert people’s attention it is linking it to religious issues so that people won’t focus on the ground situation. It is discriminatory to link the illness to one specific community.” Also Read - Viral Video: Kerala Autorickshaw Driver Grabs 2.1 Million Views on TikTok For in-Built Handwashing Dispensers

Juhi Singh, a senior Samajwadi Party leader said, “We should keep religion away from all this. The situation is already bad, so why complicate it further? By identifying hotspots via mosques, the government is also defeating its own work that it has done so far. Rather than naming areas after mosques, specific areas should be identified. This exercise will otherwise be seen as divisive.” Also Read - Haryana Resumes Inter-state Bus Services; Aarogya Setu App, Identity Proof Must For Passengers

Saying that the practice of naming hotspots after mosques was being followed only in Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow-based law professor Abdul Hafiz Gandhi told ThePrint, “This is a wrong practice as you are blaming one particular community by naming hotspots after mosques. Are we naming hotspots after any other religious institution? Hotspots are named after areas and this is what is being followed across the country.”

In defense, a senior government official who did not wish to be named, shared, “The positive cases came from those areas and which is why hotspots have been named after them. There is no other motive to it.”

A resident living in one of the hotspots said, “This is nothing but an attempt to create an impression that Muslims are behind the spread of Covid-19. Even today Tablighi Jamaat is shown as the major reason behind the surge in cases. The areas that have been labelled as hotspots include both Muslim and Hindu communities. When areas are not being named after temples or churches, why are they being named after mosques?”

Located in the Sadar Bazaar area, Masjid Ali Jaan has reported 95 positive Covid-19 cases so far and government records show that the area has 578 suspected cases of the novel coronavirus while a total of 67 people have been quarantined. Sadar Bazaar has been barricaded and essential services are provided by the state government ever since 12 people from Saharanpur, found in a mosque in Qasaibada, had tested positive for Covid-19 earlier last month. So far 214 cases, with eight new infections reported on Friday have been recorded in Lucknow.