Developed nations across the world have given up the concept of herd immunity to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus, which continues to wreak havoc, killing over 27,000 people. Boris Johnson, the biggest proponent of herd immunity, tested positive for coronavirus after developing mild symptoms. He has now gone into self-isolation. Perhaps, he will get more time to study "herd immunity versus lockdown" while living in isolation. The free and liberal world is now following the Chinese model of lockdown in Wuhan. Lockdown the entire population, don’t allow anyone to come out. This way the Covid-19 curve will get flattened and they will survive its devastation.
Kashmir is not new to such lockdowns, crackdowns, long sieges and also to long shutdowns. In Kashmir-specific lockdowns, bullets and pellets would be fired on those who tried to defy it. For the past three decades, hundreds have died, many have lost their eyesight to pellets, hundreds have been sent to jail for defying lockdowns. But this is not an attempt to compare the lockdowns in the valley with the one necessitated by the COVID-19 spread. There is no comparison between the two. It is obnoxious and unfair to compare the two in the first place.
But Kashmir’s three-decade-long experience of living with the trauma of lockdowns, crackdown, shutdowns and civil curfew have put them in an advantageous position at this juncture. Kashmiris just experienced a seven-month-long lockdown that led to the arrest of nearly 8000 people, including three former chief ministers, complete communication blackout and unprecedented siege.
If “stay home and be safe” is the slogan of the world to face the current lockdown, Kashmiris have been inside their homes for seven months, shivering and frightened for their lives. Remember, days after August 2019 when hundreds of Kashmiris didn’t know what happened to their relatives and friends and neighbours. Some died and we came to know months later about their deaths. The August lockdown following revocation of Article 370 was preceded by many orders, particularly the one that asked all tourists and pilgrims in the Valley to leave. That created an unprecedented panic, and anxiety and many of us asked if we could meet once, for tomorrow was uncertain. Many of us hugged each other thinking it could be the last time. We have all gone through that trauma.
Again today, there is a sense of panic in the Valley. Everyone is waiting for what is an unknown future. But this time, Kashmiris are not alone in the unknown world of panic and trauma. The world is with them. From New York to New Delhi, everyone is bothered about things which have troubled us for the past three decades. Whether or not we would get necessary medicine, baby food in the lockdown is now a reason to worry for all.
While the world is concerned about how they should live through this lockdown, how their children would take this long isolation and how they would feed themselves and how old people would go through these hard and pressing times, these worries shouldn’t frighten Kashmiris. This shouldn’t be an issue for Kashmir. Kashmiris have lived through the worst times. All they must do is to adhere to this lockdown and its advisory as this is the only lockdown that is for life, for securing children, adults and old people from the dreaded disease. They must confine themselves to their homes; they must isolate themselves; those who need to undergo quarantine should do it willingly and gracefully. There is no disgrace in quarantine. They must gracefully embrace this lockdown to show the world they will outlast this calamity too.
And also Kashmiris should give the rest of the India tips on how to survive the lockdowns, detentions and brutality of law enforcement agencies, which they see in scores of videos, with policemen beating people for even walking on the road. You have been living with this humiliation for years together, you must spread the knowledge about how to face it, and how one feels when people say you should move on. Former PSA detainee and former chief minister Omar Abdullah has started advising people about how to live in isolation and you, too, should start telling the world but by remaining in the lockdown and isolation. This lockdown is for life. You must remember it.