Anantnag: While threat of community transmission of Covid-19 grows in Kashmir every day, the people keeping essential services running in Kashmir are increasingly worried about their safety as no protective gear seems to be coming their way.
The list of such people is long and includes policemen, ration distributers, frontline workers in the district administrations, municipal workers and many others.
These people lament that they have been left out to deal with the situation with just ordinary face masks and in some cases not even that. They say they come into contact with dozens of people throughout their day’s work, not knowing who might be infected.
“We have been told to collect ration cards at our fair price shops and then call people one by one to collect the supplies. We come into contact with hundreds of people regardless of the fact that it is one person at a time,” an employee of the food and supplies department from Anantnag district told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the employees of the department did not even have the necessary face masks till a few days ago. “We have been given face masks now but they are ordinary and we fear we will contract the infection sooner or later,” the employee said.
Kashmir Reader talked to policemen who have been enforcing the lockdown and even though some of them have been provided face masks, they feel it is not enough.
“We are on the road almost 12 hours a day and have to deal with truckers coming from outside, locals going to the hospitals. We talk to them, check their passes. We cannot maintain the necessary gap given the nature of our work,” the police men said.
They say that they should also be provided with proper protective gear as the community transmission of coronavirus in Kashmir may turn into a reality.
“We fear going to our home. I have been putting up at the police station since the last fifteen days, even though my home is at a walking distance from here,” a police man from Pulwama district told Kashmir Reader. “I fear for my safety and the safety of my family,” he added.
Kashmir Reader talked to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir PK Pole, who insisted that face masks were all that was needed for these people for now.
“Face masks have been supplied to all the departments including police, food and supplies, and other departments,” Pole said, adding that even some NGOs have been donating face masks and they are available in abundance.
He said that some left-out departments will be provided with the face masks soon.
Pole insisted that the head to toe protective gear was necessary only for people dealing with Covid-19 cases, carrying out tests, or those working at the quarantine centers.
“For the rest, the face masks are more than enough,” he said.