Discriminated, scared, jobless, lock-downed, masked, broke, depressed, homesick, and missing their loved ones they board the trains onward their homes; a place they left not by choice but by circumstances- to earn and support the family or to access better educational facilities for better opportunities. Prior to this journey to home, fervent appeals have been made by various groups, stranded outside the state, to the government to help them come home. As the world and the country continue battling the highly contagious disease, COVID-19, it is not just the fear of getting the disease for the thousands of students and migrant workers stranded outside the state, but it is more about filling the void of emptiness and to be with their loved ones with the blessed resolution that comes what may they will face it together. More threatening than the ever-increasing numbers of affected people and deaths is the thought of being alienated and being on the verge of starved and abandoned thousands of miles away from home.
Meanwhile at home, even before they step foot into the state, there have been apprehensions raised from certain quarters questioning the very idea of bringing them home and the possible threat they could pose to the people at home. These concerns are much converse to what the homecoming individuals would be expecting. Being seen as a threat in their own village is the least they would expect. Some of the homebound individuals might have even anticipated a show of love and affection and being possibly welcomed with homecoming cheers as they have successfully endured 50 days of lockdown; a lockdown halting not just the delivery and providence of services but of the much-needed love and affection, that they are running after now.
It is inevitable that the inbound individuals would be subjected to quarantine norms as prescribed by the concerned authorities. All the state governments have qualified healthcare professionals who are better informed and learned than the general public to assist the Government in framing necessary guidelines. The irony is when we, in attending our own misconceived fear of suspecting everyone from outside the state as a carrier of the virus in our pursuit to prioritize our own safety above all costs, failed to see the existence of delegated obligations of concerned people to do the worrying part, when we should be lending our words of love and support to those running to us from a thousand miles away just to escape the very feeling we intend to accord them; alienation.
Notwithstanding the validity of the suggestions shared by a few people in executing the interstate movement phase-wise, what is worrying many is the supposed lack of infrastructure for quarantine facilities by the state that could accommodate and cater thousands of individuals. The idea of fear is spawned more by our belief that the state should be responsible for everything, every time when in reality, a situation as grave as COVID-19 necessitates the wholehearted efforts of the state, CSOs, religious and charitable institutions and most importantly the individuals. If the government has sanctioned Rs.200 per day for fooding expenses of those to be quarantined, is it too much to ask from the community to arrange a centre for quarantine of their own people?
The presence of a responsible and well-informed citizen with vibrant CSOs will not only help the Government in successfully welcoming home its citizens stranded outside the state but also dispel the reasons to fear by effectively conducting the necessary quarantine norms, which will eventually not aggravate the health situation of the state, as feared by many. It would be perfect for the Government to provide state of the art quarantine facilities with the assistance of qualified healthcare staff. But in this imperfect world, as the father of the Nation once said, ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’ Now is a highly opportune instant for CSOs to play a pivotal role in assisting the state in the successful conduct of quarantine process. If quarantine is well implemented and the affected person, if any exists, is given immediate treatment, nothing changes and we will be as good and green as before. Let us then play our part, and as our brethren keep coming home from different places, may they find the home they come for through the noble efforts of our sensible words and actions.
The writer is author of the book, HILLY DREAMS. More details at www.tshaokip.com