In the last 30 years of armed-conflict in Kashmir, the Valley has been witness to numerous funerals, where each new looked more tragic than the previous one. But the Namaz-e-Jinazah of Kashmir’s first coronavirus victim, a 65-year-old, looked even saddening, shocking.
On March 26, mere two odd dozen mourners attended the funeral. Amid restrictions and precautions, the unusual Namaz-e-Jinazah was guided by two guidelines: One, of course the Islamic code. And, two, a government’s SOP for such burial.
This senior citizen, who lived in Srinagar’s Hyderpora was laid to rest in his is native Sopore, some 50 kilometers from the summer capital. The businessman, associated with Tabhleegi Jammat, a Muslim missionary group, had tested positive for the ailment on March 24, barely two days before his death at the Chest Disease Hospital in Dalgate.
The very news of his having been tested covid-positive took Kashmir by storm. He was largely accused of hiding the travel history –shamed as no less than a “beast spreading coronavirus among the people.”
The two days of hate-campaign, spared none –right from the critically ailing to the Islamic Tableegh.
Call it fate or coincidence, the hate campaign finally started dying within hours of his death, when the government ordered probe into his very death. The government decision was a hint that there was negligence on the part of the health authorities and not the deceased.
As per news reports, the patient had first gone for consultation to the SKIMS Medical College Hospital, Bemina hospital. Well, how did the patient, who had gone for consultation to SKIMS end up some ten miles way at the CD Hospital, is still not clear. The only thing clear from the government inquiry is that the deceased was innocent.
Otherwise also, why would anyone knowingly that he or she is infected move around freely? And would the family of any such case, put their own lives at risk by hiding such deadly details?
In blaming the corona-virus stricken families, commonsense and moral values, seem to have remained the first victims with patients and their families being abused as criminals by many of us in Kashmir.
The old man escaped unwanted humiliation with his martyrdom, because as per Islamic belief, such a death in epidemic is eligible for Shahadat.
But then, there’s a family which lives with trauma for actually no fault of theirs. Well, I am referring to Kashmir’s first corona positive patient, a woman from Khanyar, believed to be recovering.
This woman had returned to homeland from Umrah pilgrimage on March 16. Two days later she tested positive. Her family had been prompt enough to rush her to SKIMS while other family members instantly went into quarantine voluntarily.
This was the first case where fear of corona turned into witch-hunt for the woman and her family and a senior official in the Jammu and Kashmir Police related to her.
As per news reports, the medical team at Srinagar International Airport had accused the police official of having “influenced” the concerned to let her skip the screening and go home “through a VIP route.” (Well, you cannot blame media for having reported “VIP culture” because on getting such sensitive inputs at such sensitive times, journalists cannot wait for a legal verdict before reporting things.)
But then, there remain logical questions. Would anyone knowingly carry any infected case home, only to make other members vulnerable? Here, let’s ignore that Srinagar airport is manned by CISF and not the JKP.
These incidents of witch-hunt suggest that some forces could be spreading such rumors to divert attention from who is actually at fault. And, I have a reason to say so.
The Khanyar woman was not the only Umrah pilgrim in that group to have arrived that fateful day. There were over 40 of them. So, did all such suspect cases of coronavirus enjoy same “VIP influence”?
Well none of these pilgrims were quarantined but allowed to move around freely for over a week. On March 24, they were finally taken to JLNM Hospital for screening. This author has copies of relevant official documents to support my claims.
The preparedness of the health authorities has been questionable as even doctors and paramedics are crying for proper protective gears. And, in the evenings these saviors could be carrying infection back home as government hasn’t provided them with even special hostel facilities, either.
And then, the conditions of hospitals: Even though super-specialty SKIMS Soura is not a designated covid-hospital, four coronavirus cases at hospitalized there. Won’t such violation of norms, jeopardize lives of others, especially critical care patients, including those suffering from cancer, who visit the hospital?
While questions remain unanswered, many in Kashmir are on endless witch-hunt.
As about the top cop, when you could be scared of being infected by the deadly disease, even going into self-quarantine wasn’t easy. Given public reaction, he had to abandon his home in a hurry, with family members including his sulking baby, who kept crying unheard!