Heroics Tackling Hardships in Kashmir’s Third Lockdown Year

As the valley is currently grappling with third consecutive year of lockdown, individual and collective efforts are coming to the rescue of needy and destitute.

By Sameer Dar

RASHIDA Amin’s unruffled morning rides are coming as a big relief to destitute class in Kashmir’s third straight year of paralytic phase.

The woman in mid-twenties has adopted many households battling poverty in pandemic.

With public-donor support, she’s currently saving situations from going south in many Kashmiri deprived families.

Rashida’s silent service is coming at a time when Kashmir is facing third consecutive year of lockdown creating a distressing wave of destitution around, especially for daily-wagers.

In absence of a substantial official relief package—as lately demanded by the battered business body of Kashmir—many welfare managers have come on the scene for the crisis management.

“Beyond what we get to hear on social media, situation is terrible on the ground,” Rashid said.

“There’s this old mother who lives alone in a shanty in Srinagar. She has no support left. And then there’s this family of four sisters living without any earning hand. This third-year of lockdown has hit the poor families like anything.”

Kashmir’s 3-week lockdown in 2021 has already incurred economic losses worth Rs 6000 Crore, says Ejaz Ayoub, a budding economist from Kashmir.

“Government bailout is Rs 55 Cr as tabulated,” he adds. “This means Jammu and Kashmir is losing Rs 260 Cr every day in lockdown.”

This official response, experts fear, will undo the last thirty years of economic resilience of the valley.

“At the end of the day it’s more about human lives and livelihood,” says Ather Khan, an economic scholar from Srinagar.

“It’s one thing to live and make uneasy peace with these lockdowns as part of the plagued routine, but entirely other matter to live its long-term consequences.”

Seconding Ather, Rashida says that it took Kashmir years to fight and come out of the clampdown routine of nineties.

“Take, for instance, the case of orphans,” she continues.

“We’re yet to address that concern. In the name of management, we evaded our collective responsibility and diverted that crisis to orphanages than to develop a foster system and address that nascent situation in the bud itself.”

Back in the day when the destitution reared its ugly head in the valley, Ghulam Mustafa of J&K Yateem Trust became one of the crisis-managers.

The 1972-established orphanage became a strife shelter overnight and gave succor to several families in Kashmir during nineties.

“We have been relying completely on public donations to run our organization since then,” says Ghulam Mustafa, the orphanage administrator.

“And years later, with the help of that community support, we’ve diversified our destitution plans.”

The orphanage runs a program called “Wedding Assistance” in which they help orphans and destitute girls with a wedding kit comprising of ladies suits, footwear and cosmetics products worth Rs. 15,000.

In the times like these, the orphanage counts on its special programs like “Feeding the Needy”.

Apart from this diversified role of the orphanages, Kashmir’s current Covid crisis is being managed by a collective consortium of welfare-minded individuals going out of their way to address hardships with their heroics.

“We’re proud of our NGOs for running the oxygen and food initiatives at the moment, but more and more people should come forward to support our brethren in distress,” Rashida says.

“We’ve shown it in past that we’re together in crisis. We must show the same spirit when many families are finding it hard to manage meals and means.”

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