In this hour of direst need, all, barring one, shrank when a sacrifice was sought. As Kashmiri students from different countries, mostly Bangladesh, started returning to Srinagar in mid-March following the coronavirus outbreak, the government approached different hotels in Srinagar, asking them to house them for the mandatory 14-day quarantine. As expected, the owners refused, conjuring a deadly cocktail of contamination and future loss of business. The popular Centaur Hotel, for example, cited risk to staff, who lodged a pre-emptive protest. All except one man--45-year-old hotelier Irshad Mirza, who put his hand up and asked the government to use his property.
“I told them my hotel is available,” says Mirza, who owns Shah Abbas hotel on Srinagar’s Dal Lake. “If the virus can be contained due to quarantine and other isolation measures, it will save Kashmir; if Kashmir is safe, my family is safe,” reasons Mirza lucidly. His offer was gratefully accepted.