Shahnawaz Afzal: The novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province – which has a population of 11 million and is Chinas seventh largest city became the center of a pneumonia outbreak of unknown cause, with global implications and an ongoing impact. An immediate investigation of these clustered cases to identify and control its spread by isolation of suspected infected patients, closely monitoring their contacts and obtaining detailed clinical epidemiological data aided Chinese scientists in early Jan 2020 in pinpointing a novel coronavirus (nCoV) strain from the patient groups in Wuhan. The epidemic has spread to more than 209 countries and territories since then and can be considered as the product of natural evolution.

          In its fight with the Pandemic, the Democratic Indian Republic observed an unprecedented shutdown on Sunday March 22nd following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal for a JANATA CURFEW, where people have been urged to voluntarily stay indoors to check the spread of coronavirus where public transport was suspended or curtailed and the entire market was shutdown barring those dealing with basic essential needs. With a mere four hours’ notice, India’s prime minister announced a complete lockdown where no one could leave home for 21 days — the most severe step taken anywhere in the war against the coronavirus.

                   “There will be a total ban of coming out of your homes,” the prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced on television Tuesday night, giving Indians less than four hours’ notice before the order took effect at 12:01 a.m. “Every state, every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown,” Mr. Modi said. The breadth and depth of such a challenge is staggering in a country where hundreds of millions of citizens are destitute and countless millions live in packed urban areas with poor sanitation and weak public health care.

India’s pandemic lockdown soon turns into a human tragedy, Amid the starvation following the Coronavirus lockdown, the Student Islamic Organization (SIO) has come forward to help the needy. Despite all the atrocities and challenges the volunteers and cadres have been working across 24 states across India, distributing cooked food, ration and medical Kits with unprecedented love and an urge to serve humanity. The sudden and complete lockdown enforced by the central government in view of the Coronavirus outbreak left the poor to starve. The reliefs and aids announced by the centre and state governments were not sufficient to feed the needy. Migrant workers stranded across cities are walking thousands of miles to get back to their homes. At this critical juncture, many civil organizations like the SIO have come forward to help the poor.

In a press note given by General Secretary of SIO, Syed Azharuddin states, his team and organization is running around 1,000 helpline centers for the needy in small towns and villages. Around 10000 volunteers engaged in the relief work who are continuously working from March 25th after the announcement of the lockdown. Around 25,000 families have received kits containing ration for one month along with medical aids and sanitizers.

Adding on to this, temporary arrangements for shelter and food were made for around 10000 students and youths who got stranded due to the sudden lockdown. Among the people suffering, majority are the laborers hail from Bihar and Bengal who earn their living through the daily wages. These people have been lodged at various relief camps with adequate help in terms of food and accommodation.

          He said that a huge percentage among the sufferers are the migrant workers and the people residing in slums. His organization has been trying relentlessly to reach out to maximum number of people and render a helping hand. With a deep sense of responsibility, the organization would inform the local authorities’ in charge about the situation.

          With his personal experience Azhar quoted “I have visited a slum area in Warangal Telangana where 600 daily workers live. They said, they did not receive any support from the government. We spoke to the local corporator who himself is awaiting the response from the government authorities”. Adding on to this, Azhar told that around 40% of the population of  Telangana’s Warangal lived in slum areas and he only managed to reach out to a handful of them. Quoting this example, he told “You can guess the seriousness and the need of the hour, sense of responsibility of the political class by an incident in Bihar where a local MLA reached out to SIO Bihar President Tahoor Anwar for relief work and the team obliged with utmost sense of responsibility”. The SIO Bihar team has been doing a tremendous job with the relief work, apart from all the relief work, the volunteers also advocated the local Muslims to offer Zakath ( Charity ) before the holy month of Ramadhan as thousands of laborers and workers are suffering to earn their daily meal. SIO has been collaborating in all the relief activities with its parent organization Jamat –e – Islami Hind in most of the places.

                   Being a local resident of Warangal, Azhar informed that there are about 182 slums in WMC (Warangal Municipal Corporation) which includes 92 notified and 90 non notified slums with a total population of 2.26 Lakhs. The spread of slums across the city is contributing to unhygienic environment in terms of cleanliness, water stagnation, presence of vectors etc which increases vulnerability towards the diseases. Living conditions of the poor have drastically deteriorated due to several factors like inadequate environmental infrastructure and basic services.

                   Giving deeper insights on the numeric, Azhar said that starting 25th of March 2020 to till date, SIO volunteers across the nation have worked with lots of compassion and determination distributing kits to at least 10000+ families. Looking back and contemplating from his experience he said, the central government and respective state governments should have a dialogue with intellectuals from different communities leaving aside all the political agenda in these catastrophic times.

                   In the fight against the global pandemic, apart from all the relief work SIO has released guidelines for the masses and a handful demands to the state and central governments on the Corona outbreak. The guidelines included educating the people regarding the pros of Social Distancing, self-maintenance of hygiene, importance of education and awareness regarding the pandemic. The SIO pleaded the govt authorities to check if all possible resources are being provided. The govt needs to keep a check on the daily status of the outburst in their respective states. It needs to curb the damaging views coming in from different walks of society and should act accordingly to avoid any panic/chaos among the people. SIO has urged the government to take stringent actions against people spreading unconfirmed news or false information regarding the disease. The organization has also put forth the view that the common people need to come forward and make sure they contribute as it is the need of the hour.

                   Azhar in his closing remarks quoted the famous hadith – “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” [al-Bukhari]. SIO urges the entire nation to unite as one and conquer this epidemic.