Set up to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the quarantine facility in Srinagar is rather, an invitation to disaster. While over a dozen people are crammed into a single room with little facilities, those having “connections” easily bypass the screening and quarantine at Srinagar airport.
The selective quarantine triggered protests at the airport on Thursday while police cane-charged few of the visitors flying into the valley and their relatives waiting for them at the airport.
“The medical authorities at Srinagar International Airport requested these students to cooperate for the quarantine process to which they didn’t agree and started protesting, breaking windows/glass panes. The parents of these students were waiting outside arrival terminal also started protests,” the police said in an official statement.
On Thursday, Kashmiri students studying in Bangladesh arrived at the Srinagar airport on several flights. As the students were screened for any symptoms of COVID-19, a team of officials asked them to wait as the administration is yet to decide on whether to quarantine them or allow them to go home.
“We are 14 girl students and have been bundled in a single room,” a 20-year-old girl student, who has been kept at a quarantine facility in Srinagar told The Indian Express as she broke down. “Is this what they call quarantine? We don’t want any luxuries. We only want liveable conditions. There is only one unclean washroom for all of us.”
“There are two travellers from Italy and one each from the US and France. They (officials) are asking us to share the room with two women who have travelled from Italy. We are already 14 girls here,” she said, adding: “Please get us out of here. We are all doing fine but they (government) are exposing us to infection.”
A picture from inside the quarantine facility shows a row of beds placed at a distance of less than a foot from each other in a room.
The student said that the room has only one plug point to charge their phones and they wouldn’t be able to even talk to their families as their batteries are dying down, adding that the rooms lack basic facilities.
“We have come from Bangladesh which has a warm climate. The temperatures here are far below and they have only provided us a thin quilt. We don’t even have warm clothes with us and are surely going to get fever and cold here,” a student said.
Claiming that the quarantine is selective, one of the students said, “A fellow student who was with us, managed to leave for her home because her father is a district judge. Her father had come to the airport and managed to take her along.”
“We were truthful and wrote in the screening form that we have come from Bangladesh. Those who wrote that they have come from Delhi were allowed to go home,” she continued.
On J&K government spokesperson Rohit Kansal’s direction, The Indian Express tried to contact Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Iqbad Choudhary but he did not respond to calls.
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