Hate in the time of Corona

The District Magistrate of Srinagar posted a cryptic tweet yesterday. He doesn’t say much but what he says is scary and can create panic, especially since he is referring to the Coronavirus pandemic. The first line reads, ‘Trust me if I share a summary of daily events NONE in Kashmir will sleep’.

First of all, at this point in time, people deserve clarity and truth; not semi-coded alarmist messages with arrogance of power. Second, who is he speaking to? As the DC he should be aware that internet in the valley remains disrupted: post-paid internet is patchy, prepaid connections are dysfunctional and LAN internet services are cloaked in restrictions.

It is becoming very clear from information in public that the Indian state has already botched up efforts to contain the pandemic. Where there should be isolation, there are mass public gatherings, thanks to the bell-ringing and thali-clanging led by PM Modi’s call to thank health workers on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 virus. Where there should be belief in science and medical advice, there is faith in superstition and magic healing. Where there should be an acceptance of human fragility, there is machismo – the ultranationalist Hindutva style.

In this atmosphere of information scarcity and resulting distrust about the pandemic, the internet is serving as a crucial means for people to equip themselves and their communities to fight the Corona virus. Doctors are able to speak directly to people about the seriousness of the situation. Because of the internet, people are still able to virtually, politically and medically be connected with the world. The internet is allowing for test simulations to be transmitted, information to be shared globally and for nations to learn from each other.

And yet, what Kashmiris have is a patchy internet, military lockdown, and now, tweets from the administration.

Article 370 has been abrogated and now the claws of hate, fascism and violence from the Indian state towards Kashmiris has been further sharpened during a pandemic. The call to the Government must be for a compete and full restoration of all communication channels in the valley. It is unacceptable that Kashmiris are meted out this treatment during a pandemic.

#EndOccupation #StandWithKashmir #KashmirCaged
_ Pipfpd

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