Unsung heroes: Unmindful of their own safety, safaikaramcharis go all out to fight COVID 19

Srinagar, March 29: Forty-five-year-old Safaikaramchari Ghulam Rasool Sheikh suffered a heart attack after spraying chemicals in Masjids and quarantine centers. He was admitted to Super Specialty Hospital Shireen Bagh Srinagar where doctors put a stent in his heart.

Hailing from Srinagar’s Nishat area, Sheikh has been suffering from various ailments but he continued his duties without caring for his life. “He sprayed chemicals in Masjids and schools­-turned-quarantine centers in Brain Nishat. After working for four days, he suffered a heart attack last week. A stent has been inserted in his heart which cost around Rs one lakh,” said Ghulam Mohommad Solina, Safaikaramchari Union president.

Sheikh, father of three small children, does not own his house. He is currently putting up in rented accommodation.

Solina said Safaikaramcharis associated with COVID-19 duties have neither knowledge nor training for spraying chemicals.

“Department should have given us proper training regarding the plague and handling of chemicals. We don’t have proper equipment and gear to deal with the crises. Authorities are least bothered if anyone among us faces any health issue,” he lamented.

Moreover, he said safaikaramcharis have been at the forefront of relief and rescue efforts whenever any disaster hits the valley. “Our employees have been beaten up. I would have gone for a strike to make people understand our importance, but this is not the right time for that,” he said

Farooq Ahmad, Safaikaramchari at Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) said that they face enormous problems while discharging duties. “Despite showing identity cards, many among us have been beaten up. We are on duty but they don’t understand,” he said.

Javaid Ahmad another Safaikaramchari said he has been keeping a distance from his family due to the fear of infection. “We keep a distance from our families as a precautionary measure. I have kept a distance from my children and remain in a separate room after finishing my work,” he said.

Commissioner SMC, Gazanfar Ali was not available for the comments. 

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