Srinagar: Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Kashmir, Dr. Khairunissa Aga is navigating her day through Facebook and WhatsApp messenger – managing a Quick Reaction Team of about 350 volunteers across the Valley.
When Dr. Aga, a PhD scholar at Jawahar Lal Nehru, New Delhi, travelled to Kashmir from Iran in mid-February, she was only reading and learning about COVID-19 epidemic and China and how it is spreading.
On her return, she knew what Kashmir needed. She was made interim head of virus-related affairs of Anjuman-Shari-Shia by her father, Aga Syed Hassan Mosavi Al-Safvi, a Shia leader who remains under house arrest for the last seven months.
“We shut down congregation prayers and mosque for large gathering – as the same was happening in Iran,” says Dr. Aga. “We started contacting our volunteers in neighbourhoods across Kashmir and trained them via social media platforms on spreading awareness.”
Keeping the lockdown in mind, and the fear that it might be prolonged, with the QRT, Dr. Aga is aiming at stock-piling essentials. “We are pilling essentials in mosques that have about ten households in their periphery and will start distributing them they run out of them,” she says.
The volunteers are deliberated to keep track of sick, old age, pregnant ladies, daily wagers, poor, destitute and other vulnerable groups, including those who have travelled to foreign countries in recent past.
But it’s not all easy for the team. Dr. Aga says that she is struggling with administration’s way off handling the lockdown. “A few of our volunteers have also been beaten up while responding to people’s help calls,” she says. “The forces and administration needs to understand that it is not a normal curfew but a fight against the virus.”
By now, there have been at least forty-nine positive cases of the virus in Jammu and Kashmir.