Unsung heroes of Covid-19 pandemic

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By Akhlad Khan

With India battling a deadly second wave of Covid-19, the country’s healthcare infrastructure is left overburdened with people scrambling for hospital beds and oxygen cylinders. Amid a crippling shortage of oxygen across the nation, thankfully some good samaritans have emerged as saviours in these bleak times. Humanity was in full bloom as voluntary organisations and individuals came forward to show their humane side in the otherwise gloomy atmosphere due to the ever-increasing COVID deaths. Muslim men in various cities have performed last rites of Hindu Covid victims. Several ordinary people have been at forefront in the battle against Covid-19. Several of them have played their role in various ways during the pandemic. Have a look at our ‘Unsung Heroes that shines amidst the Pandemic’.

A group of seven people had carved a role for itself in Jagtial district. Bilalpur New Youth Welfare Society (of all Muslim persons) arranged the last rites for 210 Hindus and 73 Muslims who died of COVID in the past six months. Without discriminating on the basis of religion or caste, the group led by Mohammed Muneer (48), a plumber and an electrician from Korutla, disposed of the bodies as per the religious practice of the dead.

“In Islam, we bury, while in the Hindu community they cremate or some group bury. But, ultimately every human being deserves a decent resting place,” said Mr. Muneer said.

A Muslim family in charge of Kota’s biggest cremation ground since three generations claims to have performed the last rites of close to 800 Hindus in the last two months, including around 400 Covid-19 victims, many of whom couldn’t be attended to by their family members. A Brahmin family in Kota’s Talwandi locality lost an elderly person to Covid-19 while the rest were themselves battling the infection, leaving no one to collect and cremate the body. It was at such an hour that 31-year old Moid Anwar responded to the distress call and arranged for an ambulance to transport the body to the Kishorepura crematorium after four members of his team had packed it as per the Covid-19 containment protocols.

Social worker Om Prakash Sahni, who called Anwar for help said, “Moid and his brother themselves arranged the pyre for the last rites of the deceased in the presence of a Hindu priest as no one from the family of the victim could attend.”

Danish Siddiqui and Saddam Qureshi, two Bhopal municipal corporation’s fire wing workers, are performing last rites coronavirus victims whose kin have refused to cremate the bodies in fear of contracting the infection. The duo, who have cremated over 60 victims, said that humanity is much above religion. Some people are unable to cremate because of fear and some out of financial constraints, they said.

A group of young Muslim men have performed the last rites of Hindu Covid victims in Lucknow. Meanwhile, a Muslim man travelled 400 km to perform the last rites of his Hindu friend who died due to Covid. Thirty-three-year-old Imdad Iman, a store owner and a graphic designer who lives in the Maqbara Golganj area in the Old City, along with his team of 22 others has helped in cremating seven Hindu victims. They have also buried 30 Muslim victims. Most of these victims did not have family members in town to perform the last rites.

Many individuals and groups had started to provide free oxygen cylinders to patients in various parts of the country. There had been a number of cases where patients were losing their lives as they failed to get oxygen and beds at hospitals that were coping with a huge influx of patients.

Pyare Zia Khan

Pyare Khan from Nagpur reportedly spent Rs 85 lakh to ensure 400 metric tonnes of medical liquid oxygen reaches government hospitals in and around Nagpur. So far, he has provided 32 tonnes of oxygen, saving the lives of hundreds of people. Khan is associated with transport business. He is the owner of Amshi Transport. Pyare Khan said, “it is painful to see  our people are dying due to shortage of oxygen.

Alhamdulillah I have the resources and made use of them and provided 2 tankers of oxygen containing 16 tonnes each to Government Medical College in Nagpur”.

 

Despite being subjected to a vilification campaign and demonization by the majoritarian bigots, Muslims in India have displayed humanity and have taken to the frontlines in the hour of crisis. The very same Muslims who were threatened of being stripped of their citizenship just weeks before the outbreak of the pandemic, rose to the occasion and began helping the poor in their critical hour of need. While on one hand people across India and around the globe were largely confined to their homes with businesses and educational institutions all shut down in an attempt to contain the virus, and on the other hand doctors, health-care workers, and medical staff members were leading the battle against COVID-19 from the front. Putting his own life at risk with selfless determination for the sake of saving lives doctors like Junaid Bhat, cardiac anesthesiologist, working in a corporate hospital at Noida truly is our hero in these challenging times. From assisting patients online to providing them possible medicines and other required stuff Dr Junaid has been truly an inspiration for many of juniors learning in this profession.

 

Covid-19 cases surge and the need for medical oxygen increases in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, a Muslim welfare society called ‘Insaniyat‘ had begun to provide oxygen free of cost to Covid-19 patients, especially those who were underprivileged. Kudrat Ulla Khan (48), who runs the organisation, said the idea to start this initiative came when he helped his friend in need. Amid limited supply in Lucknow, Insaniyat volunteers took oxygen cylinders to another district to get them refilled. They got cylinders refilled at the steel factory in Bharua Sumerpur Industrial Area of Hamirpur district, Awadh Agency in Lucknow’s Talkatora and other places. According to Khan, the distribution of oxygen was affected by the repeated change in guidelines by the administration. Mohammed Faizan, the vice-president of Insaniyat, said there was an oxygen crisis in the region and the city’s industries were not being able to maintain the supply.

 

Gauransh Mohan, a covid support volunteer from Rohtak, Haryana has been Working with a non-profit organization “Those in Need” since 5 years. He also lead a small team of volunteers by the name of “Team DNH- Delhi NCR Happenings”. As hospitals in Delhi and many other cities run out of beds, Gauransh had been finding ways to get treatment for sick patients. Gauransh says “I started helping out individually; people started joining and in no time, we were working almost 18 hours a day, verifying leads and helping patients. I have also been a part of many covid help groups, the latest one being “The Unicorns”, where some of the most resourceful and brilliant volunteers solve case requests pan India”.

Babur Khan a youth BHIM Army politician in the Shaheenbagh area of Delhi had come forward to provide oxygen cylinders to COVID-19 patients free of cost. Half of the cylinders had been reserved for non-Muslims. Seeing the hardships faced by patients, Babur along with his collegue Sameer took the decision. Babur said, “Any needy person was welcomed to come to our office with his Aadhaar card and some other documents to take an oxygen cylinder and refill free of cost.

 

Constable Ankit Tomar SP Cyber Crime Office, became lucknow’s hope of providing blood. He had heard appeals by Journalists and Social workers and initiated to help people in need amidst the grim times.

As the second wave of coronavirus pandemic hits India, it raised new fears about the crumbling health services. Addressing the issue, many doctors have come forward, providing maximum assistance to people in need. One such doctors was Dr Kamran Ikmal khan, Mbbs (Medicine junior resident, Gtb hospital). He helped the COVID patients to receive medical assistance and counselling on time, besides developing several resources, including oxygen, medicines and other materials. The doctor provides beds for the helpless patients.

Initiatives across the country to provide relief to the most vulnerable segment of society reflect how civil society can make a difference even in the face of government inefficacy and ineptitude. Especially heartening is the work of volunteers that are working to provide succour to all, regardless of religious or caste identities. From the past few weeks due to countrywide lockdown owing to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, a large number of the poor who cannot afford a decent meal, lined up in neat rows in New Delhi. Every person, including the aged and the children, wait patiently for their turn to pick a meal packet. To assist them, activist / journalist and Jamia alumnus Khushboo Khan  and Zahid Azeem, founder member and general secretary of Scholar Education and Welfare Academy (SEWA), Research Scholar from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, have been continuously feeding destitute and poor. They started serving food packets and essential kits every week to the families of poor out of their own pockets and was soon joined by friends, who wanted to help them out in their mission. “For us, personally, this work is also an expression of our identity as a Muslim. Widespread prejudice against Muslims cannot be allowed to get in the way of serving all who are impacted by this crisis regardless of their religious identify or social status”, they said.

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic had come as a huge challenge in front of the healthcare systems and the government. The demand for oxygen and ICU beds which was often crucial in the treatment of the infection had risen significantly which had led to shortage in many places. In such worrying times, a youth named Dr. Zahoor Abidi, BDS (Dental Surgeon) From New Delhi had taken upon himself to help the needy in his capacity by arranging oxygen/ICU beds/ Medicines and Blood for them. He devoted all his time to serve the people. His phone keeps ringing as people call him for help all the time. Many of these have thanked Zahoor for their lives.

The Unsung heroes of the nation are being thanked in different ways. The whole nation is praising the efforts that are being made by corona warriors to ensure everyone’s safety everywhere. These people have been tirelessly working to deliver essential services. We should encourage them for the work coronavirus helpers have been performing when most people are sitting home. It is because of the coronavirus helpers that the nation is being able to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Salute to the courage, valour and selflessness of our unsung heroes in serving society. No words are enough to express gratitude towards all the Corona Warriors, who risked their own lives to save the lives of others. It has been a result of their pre-emptive, proactive and graded approach that India has been able to perform well on various parameters related to COVID19. Thank you all and to all the others we are yet unaware of.

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