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How Kashmir almost defeated COVID, then brought it back to haunt us all

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File photo: KM/Umar Ganie


SRINAGAR: Yellow bamboo fences along with new plastic barriers are again `adorning’ the Srinagar city.  Wafts of fear are in the air.  Conspiracy theories galore, pedestrian arguments overlap reasoning, and quackery is defeating science and reason.

Welcome to Kashmir, where COVID lockdown has staged a comeback. In fact, the lockdown has become folklore in Kashmir. It returns every time Kashmir tries to come to grips with the situation. This time too, the lockdown has come back with a vengeance. Rightly so because healthcare infrastructure is crumbling, cases are rising and more worryingly young are falling prey to COVID induced bilateral pneumonia.

 

Under a lockdown for almost a year now, Kashmiris are beginning to show recklessness and carelessness. For a population that has been under siege it is not entirely unexpected but what is shocking is how we are almost inviting COVID 19 to our homes, educated and uneducated alike.

Kashmir is the only place in the country which showed marked improvement after the lockdown. Kashmir was the first place in the country which imposed lockdown much before Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an announcement. Yet we could not capitalize on our gains.  Like the rabbit in a tortoise story, we became complacent after winning the first round. The result is that we are on the powder keg of COVID 19.

Conspiracy theorists are in every mohalla, every colony, and every village.  From propagating `sarkari chal’ to ` COVID business’ and from `khudai khaher’ to “all is well’, people have been coining different theories to defeat reason. Rumours within and from the valley travel faster than actual news about Kashmir.

Why has so and so COVID patient’s family not tested positive? Are medicos earning from declaring someone positive? Is the government lying to further political goals? These are some conspiracy theories making rounds in the valley.

On top of it, some people have become so complacent that even COVID infection looks a `gahri chal’ for them. So much so, some self-styled community leaders arranged buses for a picnic in different colonies on Sunday. Hundreds of people with multi-layer Tiffin boxes and bags laden with junk food left for Pahalgam and Gulmarg.  Ask them about COVID, they will react with contempt and sometimes humiliate you with nonsensical reasoning.

Given people’s complacency and lackadaisical attitude, it would have been in the fitness of things to impose strict curfew instead of lockdown. Despite lockdown, people would roam inside lanes and by-lanes, gossip on shop fronts, and play carom on streets. Therefore, the government must take more stringent measures.

Desperate times need desperate measures. A strict curfew is the need of the hour. The administration should also coordinate with civil society, mohalla committees, and Masjid committees and jointly patrol the streets to impose lockdown. 

Volunteers should be included in police patrol teams to ensure that people stay home. A dedicated group of volunteers under the aegis of administration should be entrusted with the job of home delivering essential goods and medicines. Unless we take stringent measures, the curve will not be flattened. When we will wake up, it will be too late. STAY HOME, STAY SAFE.