Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) RTI Movement statement on the coronavirus emergency in Kashmir:
The COVID –19 Pandemic has created global chaos – and affecting people with no distinctions. Globally, there are 532,692 confirmed cases and 24,075 deaths reported in 176 countries.
In J&K 11 cases tested positive, one recovered, and one died, we appreciate the timely intervention of imposing a curfew, followed by a lockdown and measures of swift surveillance and quarantine and advisories to reduce the spread of the outbreak.
J&K RTI Movement stands in solidarity with the people suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, and with all the people and communities working to stop the outbreak. We appreciate the role of the medical fraternity, despite improper facilities and combating COVID –19.
Health is a Fundamental Human Right and has to be put in place in a real way. Our health care budgets have always been meagre, and there is hardly any amount spent on the research and development of health care and for preparedness of the health calamities. This crisis highlights how universal public health systems are fundamental to the life of all.
Dr Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Chair J&K RTI Movement said, “Conflict and corruption have consumed the health care of Jammu and Kashmir, and therefore, the inadequate health services, lack of staff and infrastructure is a prime concern; without which the COVID –19 pandemics can’t be tackled.”
He added, “In a conflict hit and diverse demographic place like Kashmir, where life was under siege for the past 7 months and now the lockdown, will have a severe impact on the people particularly socially excluded and vulnerable communities in groups in J&K. For instance, widows and orphans, tribals – Gujjars, Bakkarwalls, Shinas, Baltis and Pahadis, rural and urban poor, Fisherfolk, Persons with Disability, elderly, unemployed, refugees and informal sector- casual, migrant and self-employed without labour protection or social security, are daily wagers and lockdown cripples their livelihood.”
According to him, “The people in prisons, which are filled-in way beyond the holding capacity, with the inmates are of all age groups, having varied illnesses and co-morbidities. They cannot practice physical distancing and are deprived of hygiene and a balanced diet, the COVID –19 will hit them the most.”
Irfan Hafiz Lone, Legal Advisor of the Movement said, Recognizing and upholding the humanitarian principles of Humanity, Neutrality, Impartiality and Independence, and invoking the international human rights commitments, and the Core Humanitarian Standards and Sphere Standards;
We the J&K RTI Movement and concerned citizens of Kashmir appeal to the Central and State Government to:
1. Come up with immediate necessary financial packages to meet the medical emergency and also ensure the transfer of money into people’s account to meet their essentials.
2. Ensure inclusive preventive measures and actions: It is evident lack of testing, ventilators, hospitals, medicines will affect many people in the days to come, therefore
Engage companies, biomedical engineers, researchers, charities to produce mechanical ventilators and testing kits, enhance the number of testing centres and its capacity to ensure they reach everyone and accommodate all. To put in place strong public health measures now for massive FREE testing for the virus and provide FREE treatment to the affected.
3. We call on the government to take urgent measures to procure and provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the health, sanitation and other frontline personnel to protect them and help the system function.
4. Open up public spaces – hotels, guest houses, hostels, school buildings and other potential infrastructure and convert them to hospitals and makeshift quarantine centres for immediate future use.
5. Engage local administration civil society and religious leaders help spread awareness among masses on hygiene, physical distancing and social solidarity, and responsible buying.
6. Civil Society and community engagement in relief distribution and essentials; quality masks, soaps, eatables, medicine etc. helping in the fair distribution of materials etc.
The government should focus on district level quarantine facilities- isolation beds and quarantine beds with adequate medical treatment equipment.
7. Ensure provision of basic amenities like water supply and hygiene kits, soaps, sanitizers, masks and other essential commodities to all vulnerable population groups, inmates in various homeless shelters, night shelters/relief camps and slum-dwelling population across India.
8. Institute inclusive relief measures and livelihood support through relief and packages (food stocks, etc.), and social security measures (pensions), unemployment allowances, livelihood compensations to all and particularly vulnerable population groups:
Ensure that the designated public fair price/distribution shops are functioning with adequate stocks of provisions and distribute necessary food items.
Strengthen local clinics, Sub-centres, PHCs to reach out with correct information and awareness drive.
9. The people in prisons to be released on a parole at least until the pandemic passes. It will be a disaster not to release them now.
10. To restore 4G services, which will ensure the free flow of information on the pandemic, mainly when the microbe is novel and has been mutating continuously and hence changing researches every day:
11. To ensure Medicos are up to date while treating patients and for their own safety.
Free flow of information of general population.
12. In the lockdown, to ensure students have access to information and Employees could work from home.
13. To provide a people-friendly grievance redressal mechanism via the internet, for travel, food, essentials, health emergencies etc.
Dr Fayaz Ahmed Lone Secretary of the J&K RTI Movement said, “The COVID –19 challenge needs a holistic approach to address the threat before us. We call upon the people to stay home, abide by hygiene guidelines, to have nutritious meals and practice physical distancing and social solidarity!”
Peer Mohiuddin, Vice Chair of the J&K RTI Movement appeals RTI volunteers to remain vigilant, raise awareness locally, mobilise help for needy and stranded students and passengers, through innovate means while physical distance is not compromised.