Wake up to looming danger
As many as 493 new cases of the contagious COVID-19 disease were detected in J&K in the 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday evening. Eleven persons, who were COVID-19 positive, also died during this period, taking the death toll due to coronavirus in the union territory to 208 — of which 188 deceased are from the Valley and 18 from Jammu region.
Among the fresh cases, while 57 were from Jammu region, 436 infected people were from the Valley. With Wednesday’s fresh cases, the total number of infected people in Jammu and Kashmir has gone up to 11,666, and here again a good majority is from the Valley districts. Srinagar district in central Kashmir recorded the highest number of fresh cases – 153 — on Wednesday, followed by 72 in the Anantnag district in the south.
As this data (mind it – it’s only about the reported cases), the situation in the Valley is far worse than what it seems. In fact it is because of this reason that fresh lockdown has been imposed in many areas. But the unfortunate reality is that the people here seem to have taken the situation way too lightly; they are not showing the kind of seriousness as is needed in order to save themselves and their dear ones from the deadly disease.
People obviously are not heeding the official warnings as is evident from the increased rush of people on the roads and streets here. Taking Srinagar city as a sample, it seems that the people here have as if made up their mind that they will continue on a suicidal path, risking not only their own lives but also of their families’, and others’ too. Continued appeals from the health professionals from across the world are simply falling on deaf ears.
Not only the ordinary people, but certain institutions including the banks and some government offices too are openly showing their complete disregard for the advisories vis-a-vis the ongoing pandemic. For instance, throwing all caution to winds, hundreds of people throng the offices of Tehsildars and SDMs on designated dates for registration of property documents and other official matters. That physical distancing norms not followed in these offices is indicative of the larger malaise afflicting this society in general. While the ordinary people are careless, the official callousness is also a big contributing factor to the overall mess.
See the irony: these very senior Revenue department officials – Tehsildars, SDMs, ADCs and DCs, et. al. –are supposed to oversee implementation of the restrictions on public movement, and enforce physical distancing norms, and punish those violating them. But here when such brazen violations take place under proverbial noses right inside their offices with such impunity, it should not be difficult to guess how the situation would be elsewhere. Same is the sordid story inside the banks and hospitals and other places.
J&K Bank, for instance, has issued a circular regulating the attendance of limited staff at different business units so as to minimize the chances of infection – both for the staff and the clientele. But certain business units do not implement this circular as a result of which not only the staff but even the clients and customers visiting various bank branches face increased risk of infections. The growing incidence of J&K Bank staff contracting COVID-19 is visible evidence that the bank also not taking the pandemic seriously.
In hospitals too, doctors and paramedics and other support staff are ragged by huge rush of patients and their attendants. Doctors say more than 85 percent rush is of those people who have no urgency to see a doctor – “they come for routine check-ups which obviously could wait until the severity of pandemic is somewhat controlled!”
All these instances point to the general contempt people here have for their own, and others’ safety. In such a situation wouldn’t it then be wise to strictly enforce the lockdown through coercion?