Grand feasts and celebrations make up typical Eid festivities. But this year Muslims in the textile town of Ichalkaranji set a new precedent.

As pressure on medical infrastructure is multiplying in Maharashtra with a growing number of Covid-19 patients, Muslims here offered zakat, the traditional Muslim charity tax, and Sadaqah ― voluntary charity worth ₹36 lakh, to start an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the Indira Gandhi Memorial (IGM) civil hospital. With the donation from the Muslim community, a well-equipped ICU with 10 beds is ready to facilitate the fight against coronavirus spread.

The town, known as the Manchester of Maharashtra, has a population of 2.88 lakh where 78.32 per cent are Hindus, as per the 2011 Census, followed by 15.98 per cent Muslims. The majority of the population works in power looms. Like at other government hospitals, IGM too has faced the problem of lack of funds affecting medical services to the poor.

“The hospital was in bad shape, with hardly any patients going there because of lack of adequate machinery and staff. The new facility will definitely help the poor who cannot afford treatment in private hospitals,” said Atul Rendale, a local. He added that though there are not many Covid-19 patients in Ichalkaranji, the fear of spike in numbers looms large.

Even as the State is grappling with Covid-19 cases, some State politicians are busy playing the blame game, and adding fuel to the fire by posting communal messages on social media.

CM all praise

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday inaugurated the ICU facility. Applauding the initiative, he said via video conference, “Muslims in Ichalkaranji have shown the way for everyone in the country. Till now, we have controlled the spread of coronavirus with courage and patience. Henceforth, public participation (to fight the pandemic) is necessary. The Muslim community has set an example on how to celebrate a festival.”