A tweet by a Hyderabad-based group asking for blood from donors of only a particular dominant-caste community triggered outrage on Friday and renewed a debate on caste-based discrimination in India.
The handle of @bloodplusapp, belonging to Blood+ -- a group of blood donors – tweeted on Thursday saying that blood for a child was needed from “ONLY Kamma caste donors.”
Kamma is a powerful and predominant upper caste in Andhra Pradesh and parts of Telangana.
The person tweeted the donors could contact a particular number for donating blood needed for the child at Max Cure Hospital, Hyderabad on Friday.
But within minutes, the tweet triggered a controversy with many people condemning the demand. The tweet has since been deleted and the group issued an apology, saying they received the request from an unknown person and tweeted it out without verifying.
“When I was kid, my teacher told me that everyone’s blood is same. Now, these UCs have found Caste in it. Sickness! (sic)” – said @Ambedkar’s Caravan.
Another person wrote, “Where is the CASTE? It has ended millions of years ago. Answer - In your BLOOD. Pic. 2016 #EndCasteApartheid
An individual who identified himself as Amit Dandec tweeted, “Caste is a disease of mind!!! And only one anti-dote exists for this - #DrAmbedkar’s literature!”
Another netizen, Punit Juneja, angrily reacted: “Why did caste enter blood donation? I hope @maxcurehospital didn’t insist on caste-based donors! But do save the child.”
Efforts to trace the person on the mobile number given in the tweet proved futile. Authorities at Max Cure Hospitals confirmed that some person had contacted the hospital for emergency blood requirement for a child on Thursday, but did not make any reference to the caste. “However, the child was not admitted to our hospital. We were told they had taken the child to some other hospital,” Max Cure Hospitals spokesperson Sree Lakshmi told HT.
On coming to know about the tweet of the person seeking blood only from Kamma donors, the hospital authorities put up a disclaimer. “Pls note that this tweet has been posted by @ShekarNews & @bloodplusapp in Twitter. @MaxCure Hospitals doesn’t own responsibility for this post.”
“It is ridiculous that there are persons who seek blood donation based on caste affiliation. It is not only inhuman, but also dangerous,” Sree Lakshmi said.
Ambedkar Students’ Union secretary Sannaki Munna said there was no surprise that dominant-caste people did not want to get their blood “contaminated”.
“This is not an unusual phenomenon. There are upper caste groups which maintain WhatsApp groups for their own needs. May be instead of posting the requirement for blood in the Kamma caste group, the person might have posted in the general social media network,” he observed.
The Twitter handle of Blood+ called it an “accident” and apologized for the controversy. “We want to help others and are repeating info we get. We will now take greater care,” the group manager tweeted.
The incident comes at a time when India is in the middle of a nationwide debate on festering caste discrimination. The flogging of four Dalit men in Gujarat by alleged cow protectors last month triggered a massive movement against caste-based atrocities. This followed a massive debate and protests over the death of PhD scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad in January after months of alleged caste discrimination on campus.