While Jammu & Kashmir has taken sincere steps to stem the spreading pandemic, residents across the LoC in PoK are facing hardship.
Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) is sitting on a catastrophe as its nagged Election Commission gave go-ahead to conduct elections to the 45-member assembly, defying National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), which had suggested postponing polls amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner of PoK, the NCOC had stated that due to the rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the country, the polls should be delayed. The letter mentioned that large political gatherings due to elections will lead to the further spread of the potentially deadly virus in the state, adding that the number of coronavirus positive cases are already high therein, reported Geo News.
Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider had accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of Prime Minister Imran Khan of wanting to achieve its desired results in the Kashmir elections. Farooq Haider said that if Prime Minister Imran Khan interferes in the election, then PoK will forget all courtesy. He said that no matter what Prime Minister does, Kashmir will never become a province.
Since the election campaign began in the region over the past few days 124 new cases of COVID-19 were detected with three deaths. So far PoK has registered 20,935 infections with 594 deaths. In a small area, that comprised just two and a half districts in 1947, the numbers are quite exorbitant.
There is completely a tale of contrast when it comes to COVID-19 management across the Line of Control (LoC). While administration and volunteers in Jammu and Kashmir have taken sincere steps to stem the spreading pandemic by distributing masks and food in far-flung areas, residents of PoK are facing hardship.
Be it the adequate supply of food materials or providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to doctors and the paramedical staff in PoK, Pakistan is showing no concern, leaving the beleaguered people to suffer in silence and eventually wither into oblivion.
“People in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) are facing a severe crisis of essential commodities as Islamabad fails to deliver on its promise during the lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak in the occupied territory. The pandemic is acting as salt on the wounds of residents. Though the government announced relief packages for the people of PoK, nothing has been done thus far,” according to a recent report in news agency ANI.
In contrast, a total of 76 per cent people of above 45 years have been administered the COVID-19 vaccine so far in Jammu and Kashmir, which is among the leading regions in the country in vaccination. Achieving the feat of 66 per cent when the national average is just 32 per cent is a big achievement.
Four districts — Ganderbal, Jammu, Samba and Shopian — have achieved 100 per cent coverage in this category, while the remaining districts continue with promising progress, they added.
In a presentation recently Union Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, mentioned that J-K is performing reasonably well in mitigating the second wave of COVID-19.
About the augmentation of medical infrastructure and facilities in the union territory, the administration has recently adopted a strategy to establish five-bedded Covid care facilities with at least one oxygen-supported bed at approximately 4,000 panchayats to provide immediate medical care to the coronavirus patients who can then be referred to higher-level facilities in case of emergency. Additionally, 33,000 Covid care medical kits have been distributed.
Also, twin 500-bedded temporary hospitals were established by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). They started functioning on July 1.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has been on the toes implementing a host of measures to bring down the case positivity rate. Due to collaborative effort from all stakeholders, coupled with comprehensive surveillance of Covid-19, decentralization of healthcare system, accelerated vaccination drive, effective Covid clinical management and continuous augmentation of healthcare infrastructure had yielded favourable results in controlling the spread of the virus.
“With optimum utilization of testing and vaccination capacities, strict adherence to SoPs and Covid-appropriate behaviour and by working 24×7, we can address the challenges of the pandemic,” the Manoj Sinha said.
The police department has been asked to distribute face masks amongst violators at checkpoints. People need to be aware that the restrictions are for their welfare and safety.
He has also passed specific directions to speed up the process for identification of beneficiaries under the special scheme envisaged by the government for families who have lost their bread-earner during the pandemic.
Indian Army a helping hand
In a bid to ensure that no one is left out of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, a team of Indian Army and health workers reached Kerani village, the last village near the Line of Control (LoC), crossing the difficult hilly terrains of the region and flowing rivers on foot, to conduct door-to-door inoculation.
The Indian Army is collaborating with the Union Territory administration to vaccinate people living in far-flung areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
Captain Sadik Arman, an Army doctor, said that the entire population of the Kerani village has been vaccinated with the first dose.
Indian Army has also been conducting a lot of awareness campaigns regarding the COVID-19 safety protocols and the vaccination.
Lauding the initiative, residents of Kerani village expressed gratitude to the Army and the Jammu and Kashmir government for the drive.
An Army battalion has also started a training programme for volunteers on the management of Covid-19 cases. On completion of the training, they will be placed at the Covid care facility in a government school in the village. Additionally, another Covid care facility will be set up in the village under the aegis of the Indian Army’s Romeo Force.
The training is for seven days. A series of talks and demonstrations during the week will help volunteers understand various aspects related to handling and providing assistance to asymptomatic Covid patients.
The training programme is being led by Indian Army doctors virtually. After the programme, the locals will be able to provide basic medical assistance to those suffering from Covid in remote areas where the medical infrastructure is inadequate.
The topics being covered during the training include management of patients, provision of basic medication and food supplements as per medical advice, oxygen support, observation of vital signs and other administrative issues.
The villagers, especially youngsters, are participating with a lot of enthusiasm. They expressed their gratitude to the Indian Army for its outreach and humanitarian assistance.
Parameters best in-country
The parameters of Covid-19 management in Jammu and Kashmir stand next only to Kerala in the countrywide comparative analysis. Every Panchayat in J&K had been provided with at least one Covid Isolation Centre with 5 beds and also the availability of testing facilities. In addition, out of 20 districts of J&K, nine districts were in the Green Zone, two in the Orange Zone and nine in the Yellow Zone.
vJ&K is emerging as a role model amongst entities with large territorial areas in conducting targeted testing, stratified vaccination and providing grass root-level medical care. J&K’s model has assisted the Union Territory in bringing down COVID caseload & related deaths per million population.
Even the Bombay High Court recently asked the central government to adopt the door-to-door vaccination model carried out successfully by J&K and Kerala to cover 100 per cent population.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni noted that it was unable to understand what the Centre’s problem was in starting door-to-door vaccination when Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala were already carrying out such drives.
The Court passed these remarks while hearing public interest litigation filed by advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking door-to-door vaccination for senior citizens above the age of 75 and persons who are specially abled, wheelchair-bound, or bedridden.
“Whether the National COVID-19 strategy/policy, which does not specifically permit “door-to-door” vaccination of elderly and physically disabled citizens, can be deviated from by individual State Governments and “door-to-door” vaccination introduced by them without receiving a green signal in this behalf from the Government of India”, the Court asked the Centre.
Launched last month, the J&K government’s door-to-door vaccination drive has yielded encouraging results. Many districts of J&K have achieved the target of 100 vaccination in the age group of 45 years and above.
Mobile teams of health departments have been reaching even remotest and inaccessible areas to ensure 100 per cent vaccination of the people.
J&K’s Weyan is the first village in India to vaccinate all above 18 years of age
A remote hamlet in the Bandipora district of J&K has become the first village in India to vaccinate all of its adult population. With the strenuous efforts of health workers, Weyhan shot to national fame by vaccinating all above the age of 18 years. The village is located only 28 km away from Bandipora district headquarters, but a distance of 18 km has to be covered by foot as there is no motorable road.
There is no internet access in the village. So, the residents couldn’t get appointments for vaccination like the way people in urban areas do.