MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi believes lockdown is a “a concept of the West”, which India is not equipped to deal with.

In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, Owaisi said the Narendra Modi government’s decision to enforce a nationwide lockdown, to curb the spread of Covid-19, was unplanned and unconstitutional.

“The worst is yet to come and the Centre will only realise once economic activity resumes in the real sense, that there is nothing left, especially for the poor,” said Owaisi, a four-time MP from Hyderabad.

He said the lockdown has only resulted in hardships and death for migrants and lack of freedom to the states.

“How can someone sitting in Delhi decide what is right for Telangana and what isn’t, or what should be the norm in Hyderabad?” Owaisi asked, adding that it was mere eyewash that states had more freedom in lockdown 4.0.

“The Government of India sitting in Delhi cannot issue a farman (decree) that states should be closed. Law and order is a state subject,” he added. “Legally, the lockdown is unconstitutional. It was unplanned and it was forced by the Prime Minister in a hasty manner.”

Referring to the over 140 migrant deaths, Owaisi said, “When all this is over, which is long away, they (the government) will see that there is nothing but destruction.”

He fears that there will be “another 8 pm announcement” by the Prime Minister. “The PM hasn’t given any direction to this country except for taali and thali bajao,” he said.

‘There will be spurt in cases when lockdown ends’
Sitting at his residence in Hyderabad, Owaisi said this was the first time in his life that he spent the auspicious festival of Eid indoors.

“Religious gatherings are banned and we have perhaps never seen such a silent Eid celebration in Hyderabad ever before this. But then we have to abide by the guidelines so one cannot complain beyond a point,” he said.

The MP agreed there will be a spurt in cases once the lockdowm is lifted and economic activities resume but believes the country has little choices.

“It (economic activity) is important or else how will people survive? The government hasn’t been able to manage so people are forced to come out and take this risk,” he said. “As someone said yah toh Covid mar dega ya bhook se (If Covid doesn’t kill us, hunger will).”

When asked about why his state was not testing enough, Owaisi said, “The CM (K. Chandrashekar Rao) and his son have been repeatedly saying that they will do testing according to the state’s requirement.”

He added, “There is an argument, which is a fair comment, that more testing should be done but however the contract tracing in Hyderabad is perhaps the best.”

Owaisi’s AIMIM is an ally of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).

On the large number of cases in Hyderabad being attributed to Tablighi Jamaat members, Owaisi said the members of the community strictly adhered to guidelines.

“We got more than 600 names from the community and within 24 hours made sure they were quarantined and tested,” he said. “They have now been discharged and are back home, but it is unfair to blame them. It shows bias and a parochial attitude in blaming a religion for the spread of a virus. If that is the case, what is the religion being followed in Wuhan or in Spain or in Italy?”

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