By Asad Ashraf

Three years ago, 38-year-old Zee (name changed) was alarmed to see hateful messages inundate her Gurugram housing society’s WhatsApp groups. Fueled by a section of mainstream media’s focus on Tablighi Jamaat members as Covid spreaders in 2020, these messages triggered nightmares of her home being attacked.

The relentless onslaught of discriminatory messages took a toll on Zee’s mental health, leading to a diagnosis of clinical depression. Faced with overwhelming fear and anxiety, she made the difficult decision to relocate from Sector 56 Gurugram to a densely populated, Muslim-dominated neighborhood in Delhi, seeking solace and a sense of safety amid the turmoil.

When asked about the trigger for her decision to leave the society and move to a Muslim-dominated locality, Zee explained that while her mental health had been deteriorating over the years due to such messages, the final straw was a particularly alarming message: “Get rid of the covid spreaders and not just the Covid.” This message marked the onset of her nightmares, prompting her decision to move away a couple of months later.

Zee’s experience is not isolated. Decode spoke to dozens of Muslims residing in cosmopolitan societies across Delhi NCR, Mumbai and other parts of India who echoed similar sentiments. They revealed that discriminatory and hateful messages against Muslims have become commonplace, circulating not only on random internet pages but also on housing societies’ maintenance WhatsApp groups, as Zee’s story exemplifies.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here.