Letter: Srinagar Airport can be epicentre of Kashmir’s Covid-19 outbreak

The VIP “Sifarish” protocol is still very much visible and happening and we do not know when will they understand that one day this VIP protocol will eat them too.



coronavirus, kashmir coronavirus, srinagar airport screening, kashmir airport
Thermal screening of incoming passengers at Srinagar International Airport. Photograph by Yashraj Sharma for The Kashmir Walla

I was traveling from Delhi to Srinagar today in an Indigo flight. When I reached Srinagar airport at around 2 pm, there was chaos everywhere. I saw people in hoards roaming around without a clue, some standing in lines, others looking for pens and forms. There was no one to guide and no one to help.

A pile of forms scattered was lying on the ground near a pillar. There were no fancy benches and chairs that they promise on Twitter. Travelers had no idea what to mention in the form and why?

A young boy came up to me and asked, “Can I copy what you are writing?” I said, “No, our information and details will definitely differ.” He replied, “I am not able to fill this form”.

Netiher everyone is an English-medium pass out nor a student. I helped him out by filling his form from some distance.

And I filled my own form, kept my boarding pass and Aadhar card handy, in order to do the necessary process quickly and leave. There were only two people to check the cards and letting people go. I saw two women exiting from a different point. I asked the person to check my credentials and let me go. He replied that this exit has been closed and I moved back to the previous line and after waiting for half an hour I reached o the exit point.

Soon, I saw three to four people exiting from the same another exit without any hassle or check again. I asked the official on duty that why don’t he let me go from there. I had all the required documents with me. He started arguing and shouting at me. “This gate is not meant for you”? When I raised questions like: why? How did you let those people go? Where were their documents? Did you check them? He grew anxious and started using foul language. He started to come forward and push me. Luckily, I was carrying a bag and I pushed him back with that.

There were a few girls as well and when they saw this happening they started speaking in my support, they raised the concern and other forces’ personnel realized that this can become an issue. They came hurriedly to handle the situation and requested us to leave from the main exit point only.

I reached to the main point where I had to prove the details the staff member standing there refused to let me go citing reasons that I am not carrying the correct documents.

Which document will qualify to be a valid one if Aadhar card, voter ID, PAN Card will not? How come these documents became all irrelevant overnight?

When they had no answers to my reasonable questions they started dogging the main issues and asked me that I should look for a senior official who will guide me on what is a legal document.

I want to ask: why I should look for a senior official? If a person is telling me that my documents are not valid then who will tell me what the correct ones are?

Finally, after much arguing and reasoning with the person from the health department, he said that I should show my student ID card.

Wow, I left my College in 2010 and my university in 2013. And why on earth is a college ID only a proof to leave the airport? What is the basis and logic is behind this?

After a lot of harassment, intimidation, abusive language and mental torture they let me go when I revealed that I’m a journalist.

Let me write here that I am not the only one who faced this, there were hundreds of men, women, students, and girls who faced the similar situation. They too had no clue what to do and where to go?

I saw three girls sitting on a bench and crying. The authorities made them sit there for three hours without letting them know the reason.

If God forbid there will be a coronavirus outbreak in Kashmir its epicenter will definitely be the Srinagar Airport.

There must have been proper information available, a proper flow of people. Different lines for women, men, people who came from Delhi or any other state and people who came from outside country. This is no rocket science to do. All this information can be easily accessed by tying up with airlines.

The way administration and the authorities are working seems we will not be able to control anything. The only action they have for each issue is curfew and barbed wires. They have normalized the violence to such an extent that it doesn’t feel different but when one starts to contemplate over it, it very much is wrong in every respect.

The VIP “Sifarish” protocol is still very much visible and happening and we do not know when will they understand that one day this VIP protocol will eat them too.

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