Activists say that in recent weeks, with media attention focused on the pandemic, police have stepped up arrests over the unrest, most of them Muslims and some under anti-terror laws.
“They are making sure there is no one to raise a voice for the community after the pandemic is over,” K. Rahman Khan, a former minority affairs minister, told AFP.
Modi has publicly sought to soothe tensions, calling for “unity and brotherhood”.
He tweeted that “COVID-19 does not see race, religion, color, caste, creed, language or borders before striking.”
But Shahid Siddiqui, from the Indian Muslims for Progress and Reforms, a civil society group formed to battle Islamophobia, said the state was involved in stoking the hatred.
Muslims were already “maligned and painted as dangerous under systematic propaganda,” Siddiqui told AFP.
Coronavirus had added a new dimension, turning Muslims into the new “untouchables”, Siddiqui said, a word usually used to refer to India’s lowest castes.
“It (has been) a deliberate attempt by media and the government to divert the attention of the country from the crises and allow hate politics to rule.”
by Jalees Andrabi and Uzair Rizvi