Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Swami Aksharnand has justifiable reason(s) to question the selection and use of the West Coast Masjid (Apr 7) as a site for Covid vaccinations if equitable consideration was not given to sites of other religions or religious organizations. Based on Swami’s original complaint and his follow up riposte (April 11) to Dr. Lesley Ramsammy, all religious groups were not treated equitably in the selection of sites to inoculate the public against the pandemic. Preference seems to have been given to one religious over the other.
Swami stated that on the day that an advertisement appeared in the media for applications for locations to inoculate the public, the SVN, a Hindu center and school to which he is the principal and guru, volunteered its facility as a vaccination site. His organization was told that health centers would be used and not religious sites. Lo and behold, an Islamic site was chosen. It is not known why the Masjid was selected and SVN was not; both have almost he same space and facilities. The two are some distance away with thousands living in between; both sites could have been used on different dates.
It is not known whether consideration was given to any other Hindu organizations or mandirs or Christian facilities aside from the Masjid. Swami has asked for a list of (religious) locations used to vaccinate the public (Letter of April 11). So far, none has been provided, suggesting the government has something to hide.
One Halim Khan, the imam of the Masjid embroiled in the controversy, penned that the Swami should approach the Ministry of Health offering his site for vaccination rather than complain over the selection of his Masjid. Well, the swami’s organization, SVN, did volunteer its site, probably even before the Masjid’s, but was not selected. Would Imam Khan now chastise the government for not selecting SVN as a site for vaccination?
Every religion and religious organization must be treated with equity in accessing resources from the government. None should be given preference over the other or excluded at the expense of the other. We still await the list of religious sites used for vaccination.
Would government come clean on the request?