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One Too Many Lockdowns for Jammu & Kashmir

With 11 cases so far including 1 recovery, the state of Jammu & Kashmir is really struggling to get a handle on this crisis with limited healthcare facilities.

Being compelled to stay in a complete lockdown may lead some to naively compare current lockdown to the forceful lockdown imposed on the people of Kashmir. Have no doubt that it would certainly be a grave mistake. The extent of pain and suffering they had been and are still subjected to is agonizing and then to absurdly compare both situation is like laughing on their sorrow.

On 5th august 2019, the government of India suddenly revoked the article 370 that gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir a special status and political autonomy. Soon After which the authorities anticipating a protest locked down all the movements. Shops, schools and colleges were shut down and Mobile internet service in the valley was suspended indefinitely. If that were not barbaric enough, tens and thousands of troops were deployed all across the valley.

After 8 months of torment, imagine their plight that rather than getting even some kind of relief they now have to confront a new enemy in the face of a contagion. With 11 cases so far including 1 recovery, the state of Jammu & Kashmir is really struggling to get a handle on this crisis with limited healthcare facilities. The first case was found to be of a 65-year old woman who had returned from Saudi Arabia on march 16.

After PM’s speech on Tuesday evening the lockdown is now extended for 21 more days. Listening to which people all over country started hoarding rations to survive 3 weeks in the lockdown. An opportunity that the people of Kashmir are having a difficult time indulging in. Due to months of shutdown of shops and markets there was already a less supply of food and essentials and now because of the lockdown, the possibility of getting even a necessary amount of food is challenging.

The major hit of this pandemic has been on the healthcare system of the state. Ever since the first case was found, heath officials have been asking the authorities for proper facilities. doctors fear that if the virus god forbid spreads more, there’s very little they can do to have control over the situation. There is an extreme shortage of ventilators in the hospitals. There is also a lack of protection gears like N-95 masks and gloves for the doctors who have to be around patients all day.

In this war against the deadly pathogen, our Health professionals are the ones standing in the front line while we sit in the safety of our home. It is unsettling to think that they are working day and night without any proper gears. Now when Their safety should be the governments priority, reports regarding the safety gears show otherwise. Anticipating a surge in demand, World health organization (WHO) On 27th February issued a guideline stating the insufficiency of the safety gears. Even after that, the government of India took 3 weeks to take action and prohibit the export of all the protection and safety equipment.

On 25th January government had restored the 2G internet services for the valley residents after 6 months of internet blackout. The restoration however did not come without plenty of restrictions. The internet access was limited to 301 ‘whitelisted’ websites and social media sites were still not accessible. Living in a 4G world, we certainly don’t need a reminder of the incompetency of 2G. And to think that the people there have to go through the lockdown amidst growing crisis without a stable network is troubling.

So the next you find yourself trying to relieve your boredom from staying indoor by using social media, video calling your relatives, or just doing work from home, think about the people of Kashmir who don’t have the luxury to do that. And when you do that, know that it’s just the tip of the hardships they have been going through.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.

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