Why Kashmiris Think Coronavirus is a Hoax

Why Kashmiris Think Coronavirus is a Hoax

The backlash is coming not from ‘extremists’ but nationalists who were made to believe all Hindus are their enemies

Ubaid Bukhari

Not everything can be negative about catastrophes like plagues and wars, because at least they shake us from our slumber and make us question and debate our worldviews, and make our beliefs manifest to others. One may ask about a plague, ‘why did it happen?’ Everyone has an answer in accordance with their belief system, education, and the class they belong to. Likewise, the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world is making people think and speculate of the reasons behind it. It is something that holds true for all the plagues human history has witnessed, that they come and they go, but not without laying bare who we are, and what we believe in.
A believer in God may call it ‘divine justice’ for immorality and rejection of faith. A man of science may try to look for physical explanations. An absurdist or a nihilist may say something similar to the famous line from Albert Camus’s ‘The Plague’: “But what does it mean this Plague? It is life. That is all.” But can there be political questions involved? The answer is surprisingly, ‘yes’.
In Kashmir a certain portion of the population believes the ‘corona pandemic’ to be a hoax and mere government propaganda to keep Kashmir and Kashmiris locked down. Such a narrative is as shocking as it is nonsensical, but the profundity with which it is advocated and the call for defying restrictions imposed by authorities takes a person by surprise. But what can one expect after months of turmoil and shutdowns in the name of resistance, in the name of restoring statehood and resisting demographic changes, in the name of infamous ‘braid chopping’, and in the name of god-knows-what. The mistrust the government has created has increased the scepticism of common men and women to an extent that even they consider the pandemic as having something to do with the government. To call them ignorant would somehow not be fair; the whole affair can be labelled as a reaction to the government policies and the alarming level of mistrust which needs to be addressed.
One such incident happened to one of my friends a month back when they bought a new servant home. His name is Haseeb, a young man from the remote areas of Qazigund. He believes the coronavirus to be a falsehood created and spread by the government. He makes fun of anyone who tries to reason out things with him. Many have tried and failed in their endeavour to convince him. He definitely is not a lone person to adhere to this view, but there are many of this kind living around us.
In the race for finding a vaccine to end the corona crisis, mankind will triumph, hopefully, but the lessons taught by deconstruction of our beliefs and faiths in the times of pandemics must not be forgotten.

The writer is a student of English Literature at Islamic University of Science and Technology

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