Srinagar: Mohammad Ayoub Ittoo, a resident of Chandgam, Pulwama was devastated when he received a call from his wife informing him that the food stock at their home had finished. Helpless, in an isolated ward at Pulwama Hospital, Ayoub pleaded with his neighbours to help his family.
Back home, Ayoub has two kids aged two and three and their mother was taking care of them. "My wife fell ill sometime back and even she needs care," Ayoub told NewsClick from an isolation ward at Pulwama District Hospital.
Ayoub was isolated at the hospital for being "suspected" of having contracted the novel coronavirus since March 28. "I am ready to stay in the hospital ward for any given time but not when I should be taking care of my family," Ayoub said.
Ayoub was not alone in the Pulwama Hospital's isolation ward waiting for answers. At least 10 others waited for the results for more than 10 days, many of whom had spent over 20 days there.
Mohammad Rafiq quarantined himself for six days at his home after returning from Hyderabad. But to be sure, he went to the hospital for further isolation and also to undergo tests.
"I was admitted at the hospital and after many days, my sample was taken for the test. It’s been 12 days, but there is no word about the results," Rafiq says.
However, on Wednesday, Ayoub was lucky to receive his test result and was finally discharged. When asked about the delay, Medical Superintendent of the district hospital Dr Jameel Ahmad Mir said, "We got the verified reports of tests done till April 11 only yesterday (Tuesday) evening."
But, Rafiq's results are still pending. While it takes anywhere between 12-48 hours for the test results in cities like Chandigarh, Jaisalmer or Delhi, those who have provided their samples in Kashmir may have to wait for weeks.
A resident of Shopian, Rafiq says, he approached administration and designated nodal officers for Covid-19 about the test results but no one had any definitive answer.
"I am in a desperate situation now and what has aggravated our plight is that new patients have been brought in the facility and if our samples even tested negative ten days back, it may not be relevant today," Rafiq added.
The "suspects", as the administration refers to them when the tests are pending, also allege that the condition of the isolation ward is bad and that they are maltreated. "We are being treated as if we have committed a crime," Rafiq said.
Since the quarantine zones were established in the region, those admitted here, have accused the authorities of mismanagement and mixing up different risk groups. Authorities, however, earlier have lodged an FIR against a PhD scholar, Owais Manzoor, only days after he posted pictures of unhygienic conditions at a Pulwama quarantine facility on social media. The administration later said the FIR was lodged because the student was involved in a scuffle with officials posted at the quarantine facility when he was asked to take rest instead of taking pictures of the facility.
Four people have died in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir after contracting the Covid-19 disease, which originated from China's Hubei province. There are as many as 300 cases confirmed positive in the region, according to official figures. In Pulwama district, no deaths have been reported and three positive cases have been reported so far, of which one person has recovered from the infection.
Not just in Pulwama, the authorities across Kashmir have been accused of "mismanagement" and at several instances they have been called out for using arbitrary force to deal with the crisis.
Earlier this week, on Tuesday, authorities dug the main road in Natipora locality in the city outskirts and sealed the locality by installing iron rod and tin barrier. The administration drew massive flak for the decision to seal the road, especially on social media. The next day, a local daily, Kashmir Monitor, reported that the barricade delayed fire tenders from reaching a spot where a house had caught fire. "By the time the fire control vehicles reached the spot, the house was badly damaged,” it said.
After completing their quarantine time on April 1, 14 Kashmiri students pursuing MBBS in Pakistan entered the UT on Thursday, nearly a month after they crossed the Wagah border. The students who were kept at Swami Vivekananda Rehabilitation Centre said they underwent a test on April 14 and were finally allowed to travel. "The Punjab administration was really helpful and we were being updated regularly. They were ready to allow us on April 1 itself. They provided us with transport till Lakhanpur border and from there, we boarded another bus provided by J&K administration," a 22-year-old student told NewsClick.
The students, however, believe J&K administration is too slow in responding and not as open as the other administrations.
Scores of students, pursuing MBBS in Iran, have been kept in a quarantine facility in Jaisalmer city of Rajasthan. It has been more than thirty days since they were admitted in the facility after they had spent 14 days in quarantine in Iran. "Our samples were taken again today for tests. Seems like we are caught up in a loop, we are just waiting and waiting," a student in the Jaisalmer facility said.
Despite the delay of 14 days, the 14 Amritsar students feel lucky, but, for tens of thousands of Kashmiris, there is no clarity as to how and when they can go back home.
Also read: Fear of Virus, Lockdown and Police Excesses Take Toll on Mental Health of Kashmiris, Say Experts