Hate the Virus, Not the Victim

By Jayanta Chowdhury

Photo: Tonik

Since our early childhood, in school and at home we have been continuously taught to, hate the virus and bacteria, by maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene, at the same time we have been taught to be compassionate towards, poor, diseased or sick. Those teaching have now become redundant, or to say has come up with new definition, in the form of stigmatization of corona victims and corona warriors. 

The priority is no doubt is to protect us from the prevailing spread of COVID19, but on the ground, people are looking at one another suspiciously those who are fighting the virus and those who are infected are seen as a ‘virus’. The treatment towards the migrants is a cruel example to this truth. 

The respective governments cannot deny their responsibilities, as without proper planning the entire country has been forced to lock down, thus spreading fear and disturbing the corroding economy. The country is witness to all the frustrations, as some started depending on superstitious beliefs, while a large section young work force are loosing their jobs.

Stigmatization of corona warriors, migrants and corona victims has divided the society. People out of ignorance and narrow knowledge are turning selfish leaving most of the victims to die helplessly. 

I would refer here, two recent incidents, to prove the case. The first instance is from National Capital, New Delhi where after a senior citizen suffered heart attack, he was denied admission in hospitals and after two hours when they got a hospital, the person succumbed. The situation becomes more pathetic, as the person was denied cremation, as now according to protocol the body had to be tested for Coronavirus.

In general, the report is out within 12hrs but here the family had to wait for 2 more days. After 2 days, when the family finally received the report, it was negative as perceived by everyone. The pain doesn’t end here, when the family started looking for vehicle to carry the dead body for cremation, not a single vehicle was available, as for them now, even a general death is now equates to Coronavirus. Though finally with much difficulty the cremation was done.

The second incident came to light in the city of reformists Raja Rammohan Roy and Vidyasagar. In a housing society in Beleghata, the owner of the house who was working in Mumbai was strucked because of the lockdowns, while his wife is here in the housing society. After the ease, post lockdown 4 when inter state travelling is being allowed by the central government, the person started his journey from Mumbai to Kolkata. 

When the information reached the housing society, the housing committee decided to deny the owner of the flat, entry into the society locking the societies main gate, while his wife was already inside, forcing the person to take shelter in his paternal home in Hingalgunj in the district of North 24 Parganas, the villagers however didn’t protested the persons entry. The person then called the President of his housing committee, requesting not to isolate his family, who is in the flat and he’ll come after 20 days of home quarantine. 

The two incidents show the cruel but real picture of our society, which has turned more selfish and skeptical. It is the failure of the governments who have failed in creating awareness. People are now dying more because of ill treatment and such ignorance. 

People’s representative or so-called our Politicians who are elected to the Parliament and also elected to the local self-government are nowhere to be seen in leading such campaign against the social stigma. Centre and State are fighting each other over the increasing numbers of positive cases and deaths, while stigma and superstitious associated with the virus has taken the back seat. 

Every time while we make a phone call, the recorded message makes us aware, not to hate the corona warriors or victims but to make us aware of the virus, it seems to fail in yielding any concrete result. Thus, if we continue to fight among ourselves in spite of building awareness, we are no doubt going to make our fight against Corona, more difficult.

Author Jayanta Chowdhury is a Senior Political Journalist with more than 30 years of experience in Journalism, presently based in Kolkata.