by Tasavur Mushtaq

SRINAGAR: In Srinagar’s old city, a man arrived clandestinely from outside. Without informing anybody about his travel history, he was comfortably living with his family at his Narwara residence of Eidgah locality.

Srinagar Municipal Corporation tankers spraying disinfectants in various areas of Srinagar on April 29, 2020. Pertinently, dozens of areas of the city have been declared red zones by the district administration. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Sensing his arrival and concealment of facts, the neighbours grew suspicious. They prompted the district administration on April 28 about the suspected man. Acting swiftly, the administration put him in quarantine. His samples were taken. Four days later on May 2, he was confirmed positive and the area was declared red zone.

As the news spread, the details emerging out is shocking.

The man in question is a brother of Corporator of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), Majid Shuloo (ward Kawdara). Reportedly he had travelled in a truck carrying sheep and later preferred to stay home without going for mandatory tests. “It was a shock to see him living with his family carelessly,” said Amir, a resident of Eidgah. “Not only his family, but he was also a threat to the entire locality,” he added.

People in the area are aghast. They see it as another case of ‘influential interference’ to weaken the battle against the pandemic. Not willing to take any excuse, Arif Ahmad says this is serious negligence on part of the Corporator. “On one side Corporator was part of sanitation drive and on the other hand, he had a suspect at home. How do you explain that” asks Arif.

The Shock

Panic spread in SMC after it was known the infected person is the brother of a Corporator and have been living together since his arrival from outside. Part of the sanitation drive to combat Covid-19, the Corporator has been part of the team. Many times, he was seen with Mayor Junaid Azim Matuu and Deputy Mayor Parvez Qadri, besides other workforce of the corporation.

Srinagar Municipal Corporation staff sprays disinfectant as a precautionary measure against Coronavirus in Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid on March 13, 2020. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

The locals of the area are also terrified. They said the Corporator had free access to roam around. Urging the government to order inquiry in the case, the residents appealed to have a probe. “Kindly enquire the matter as to how some miscreants facilitate the return of people from outside secretly and playing with our lives and weaken the fight against the disease,” said a local, Muhammad Tahir.

Another resided emphasized to have a need for being extra careful. “All of us must be extra vigilant to track down the hidden travellers and Covid suspects around us. This is to save us, our families, our community and society,” said Naveed Ahmad.

The Response

Without naming anybody, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr. Shahid said the Covid fight belongs to citizens. In a tweet, he wrote, “Covid fight belongs to Citizens. Alert, responsive & truthful. Flagged by neighbours a resident arriving clandestinely, picked up promptly, tested positive. Let’s not rush, rather follow protocols. Narwara now Red Zone.”

Juniad Mattu addressing a press conference after winning Mayor election on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Kl Image by Bilal Bahadur

A day later, Mayor Junaid Mattu passed instructions for isolation and home quarantine of nearly 50 SMC Corporators, officers, and employees. Mattu himself has gone into self-isolation. He announced the decision in his tweet. “In view of brother of an SMC colleague testing +ive, have passed instructions for isolation and home quarantine of nearly 50 SMC Corporators/Officers/Employees – TILL the Corporator in question tests negative. I’m also going into self-isolation till then. No one above law!” he wrote.

In another tweet, Matuu said, “I will be monitoring all SMC operations from home for the next two days – till we get the reports of an SMC colleague whose brother has tested positive recently. Every single one of us has to adhere to every single guideline and advisory – without exception! Me included!”


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