Javeed Bin Nabi
Each day brings news of more and more persons infected with the dreaded coronavirus. Thousands are under quarantine across Jammu & Kashmir. Hajin tehsil in Bandipora district is the worst hot-spot so far in Kashmir region. In the month of March, four persons from Hajin town with travel history tested positive, at a time when there were only three positive cases in the whole of Kashmir. Soon after, a section of the press began calling Hajin as “Wuhan of Kashmir”. It was just an exaggeration and irresponsible on the part of the press as it spread panic in Hajin and almost created a situation of chaos when calm and discipline was the need of the hour. Thanks to the Almighty, the civil administration, the civil society, and the people of Hajin got together to contain further outbreak of the disease in the area.
In tough times when an all-round collective effort was necessary to beat the pandemic, there was also the need to help the destitute and the hungry, many of whom had no means of livelihood amid the lockdown. The most important task, however, was of the doctors and the paramedics, who had insufficient facilities available at their disposal in Hajin. They made up for it with relentless work, commitment, and utter dedication, risking their lives and of their families in the process.
The civil administration and the police also worked round the clock to contain the pandemic. The role of police is highly appreciable; it is because of their tireless work and dedication that people began staying indoors from the very day the virus was reported in the region. Those who violated the magistrate’s orders were dealt with according to law.
The work of the Hajin municipal community under the presidentship of Mr Irshad Wani is as commendable, They served not only the Hajin municipal area but also the areas of the tehsil that do not come under municipal jurisdiction.
Role of Civil Society
The civil society of Hajin deserves plaudits for their efforts in the entire tehsil. The traders’ federation and the relief committees constituted by citizens took the lead in serving the needy amid a complete lockdown. They did their job without seeking the limelight or a photo-op which nowadays has become a routine affair in our society. The traders’ federations and the relief committees were well supported in their work by various government departments. A youth named Ishfaq Ahmad, who runs a Khidmat Center in the middle of Hajin town, went around with a micro ATM machine provided by J&K Bank to deliver cash to people at their doorsteps. I was told that more than 85 lakh in cash was delivered to people by him with the help of his micro ATM.
Role of Youth Volunteers
Youth organisations and volunteer groups in Hajin did commendable work in taking care of needy and poor families in the tehsil. The young leader of one such association, who is a teacher by profession, told me over phone that more than 450 families were helped by the association and each packet of essentials provided to a family costs Rs 800. All this is being done without any outside support. It is friends, relatives, and the common masses who are the donors to the association. In Naidkhai area of Hajin tehsil, a group named Sonawari volunteers headed by a social activist, Rafqat Sonawari, is also doing its best to serve society in times of this crisis. Rafqat told me that more than 170 families have been served by the group and each packet provided to a family costs nearly Rs 700. This, too, is being done without the support of any NGO or government department. In the lower belt of Hajin tehsil, which includes Madwan, Prang Maqdamyari, Banyari and other areas, civil society organisations like the Khairati Idara are playing a significant role in fulfilling requirements of essential items for all needy families. On daily basis, the Khairati Idara organisation provides people with costly medicines, food, and other daily needs. Moreover, government employees from various areas have also formed volunteer groups to serve the needy people of Hajin tehsil.
Role of Teachers & Religious Scholars
Many teachers and religious scholars frequently upload their videos on social media to make people aware, in simple Kashmiri language, of the do’s and don’ts that are necessary to prevent the deadly disease from spreading. Their efforts have been crucial in making people stay indoors. The President of the Awkaaf Committee Hajin, Al-Haji Ghulam Nabi Dar, regularly posted videos on Facebook and other social media to request people to offer prayers at home in the month of Ramadan. I was told that the Awkaaf committee has reserved a good amount of money that will be distributed among needy people in the holy month of Ramadan.
Not The First Time Either
It is not the first time that the people of Hajin are showing their strong societal bond and spirit of humanity. During the floods of 2014, they also helped each other and together saved both lives and property. Likewise, the collective work of civil society, police and civil administration is visible in the time of this pandemic. We must continue to work collectively and also let’s thank collectively all the frontline workers, including doctors, paramedics, journalists, humanitarian organisations, and individuals doing relief work, not just in Hajin but across the globe.