As India grapples with the deadly coronavirus, with cases spiking rapidly, the frontline workers who have been risking their lives ae facing another challenge and are being stigmatized in different quarters of the country. It is becoming extremely difficult for t5he frontline warriors to deal with the violence which they are experiencing in their daily lives.
Today as the entire nation struggles to fight the novel coronavirus, it is the frontline healthworkers who have been risking their lives and trying to combat the virus to keep us safe. Since the onset of the pandemic the frontline workers have been putting up a brave fight. However, it is very unfortunate that here is an alarming number of cases being reported all across the country where these workers are being harassed , abused and the attacks on healthcare professionas are increasing in leaps and bounds.
healthcare workers have also been facing social stigma emerging from fear. Neighbours and nearby residents have heckled many medical professionals, especially those working with Covid-19 patients, some even having to evict their homes accusing them of spreading the virus.
In an incident, a 30-year old Kolkata woman working with the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) team which tests samples for coronavirus, was asked to vacate her home in South Kolkata by her landlord. There are similar incidents that have been occurring in other parts of the nation as well. In a separate incident, a lady doctor was allegedly assaulted by a patient inside a surgical ward, at Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi, The woman and her accompanying doctor were manhandled by patients, they had to hide in a different room and call for security.
There had also been instances where healthcare workers were attacked by a mob and were beaten up badly while they had gone to visit and screen residents for signs of the novel coronavirus infection, In Hyderabad also a doctor was attacked by the family of a man who COVID-19 The family allegedly attacked two doctors at the Gandhi Medical Hospital. In a video which went viral online, showed that two women doctors were injured in the attack by a mob of about 100 angry residents who could be seen shouting slogans and abuses while throwing sticks and stones and chasing the healthcare workers down the lane. This is the situation of the health workers who should be loved and showered with gratitude for risking their lives to help us. But a lack of empathy and frustration is all that is left amongst people during these trying times. There have been appeals from medical professionals who have been urging for intervention from the center. Adarsh Pratap Singh, president of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Resident Doctors Association. wrote a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah regarding this matter.
It is not just medical professionals but other frontline workers like airline staffers are also facing problems. These staffers have risked their life and rescued thousands of Indians who were stranded abroad. Several of them who were part of rescue missions to countries such as China and Italy have been asked to vacate their rented houses. Similarly, doctors treating COVID patients have also been asked to evict all across the country. It is interesting that most of these incidents have occurred in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai and dealing with it has become a huge concern for the citizens There are certain e-commerce giants who have been forced to halt their services as their staff was being harassed. So frontline workers cutting across sectors are facing the social stigma which is another major challenge that the Center is facing.
As India is witnessing a rapid spike in cases even when the unlocking phase has begun post the measures and lockdown enforcement, it is imperative that the government takes steps to ensure the protection and safety of the frontline workers. Government officials have promised the protection of these workers and vehemently condemned the violence against the workers. They have also ensured that strict action would be taken against the culprits. The Central government is also promulgating an ordinance that will make violence and harassment against COVID 19 workers a non-bailable offense. The offense will attract a maximum punishment of seven years’ imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh fine. This move was taken after discussions by the government officials and after gathering reports of violence against frontline workers from all over India.
In the battle against the pandemic, it is not just the government but as citizens and human beings, it is our duty to stand in solidarity for the COVID 19 soldiers who have vowed to protect us instead of threatening them and endangering their lives. The discrimination and menace against the frontline warriors should stop immediately and we as a country should start valuing their contributions we fight the virus in a united manner.