Srinagar, Jammu And Kashmir —
There are a lot of families in Kashmir who can’t afford the lockdown, especially its financial repercussions. And, many such families are being used by self-centred organizations for cheap publicity. Instead of empathy and kindness, these NGOs have been chiselling their PR campaigns through the hearts of the underprivileged.
With the authorities imposing strict restrictions as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown, some Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in the Valley have been deriving sadistic pleasure while exploiting the less privileged families.
Sitting inside one of the shabby rooms of his ancestral house in Tahab area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Ab Rahim (name changed) is talking about the hardships the family has been facing since the lockdown was imposed. All that he says is being described as the bitter truth by his two neighbours who have been listening to him patiently.
“These are very difficult times for people like us. We would earn some money to feed our family but the lockdown has been very crippling,” Rahim says, adding, “Now, people come to help us but we are made to feel like beggars. On the one hand, they hand us some food items but on the other, photographs are being clicked and uploaded on social media.”
Ghulam Mohideen Mir, his neighbour, reveals Ab Rahim’s ordeal. He says, “My neighbour is a labourer and doesn’t have any other source of income. From a fortnight or so, he is sitting idle at home. And, I cannot tell you how hard things have become for him.”
“I couldn’t even ask him if he needed money as I felt he would be offended. But when I saw those NGO people taking photographs while handing him food items, tears rolled out of my eyes,” Mohideen said.
In Tengpona village of the district, another family which is living on a meagre salary (Rs. 2500) of their 27-year-old son, things are quite the same. Reluctant to ask their neighbours for help, Abdul Samad (name changed) who is the family head, is finding it hard to stay inside his one-storey house with just a few kilograms of rice and some vegetables left.
The family was intimated by a well-wisher that an NGO would be providing various food items at their doorstep. However, they had been asked to fill a form which they refused.
Disturbed by the thoughts of a prolonging lockdown, Samad says, “We are not financially well-off but still used to help people in whatever way we could. But today, we are being asked to provide details in order to provide us with a few kilograms of rice. I would have agreed but my daughter said she would stay hungry but won’t let me do that.”
Aadil Ahmad, who runs an NGO but keeps its activities low-key, said that they do document the work of their organization but public displays of such acts are uncalled for. He asked, “How can we claim to help people when we are actually being deeply insensitive and disrespectful?”
There are a lot of families in Kashmir who have the same story to tell. They couldn’t afford the lockdown, especially its financial repercussions. And, many such families are being used by these self-centred organizations for cheap publicity. Instead of empathy and kindness, these NGOs have been chiselling their PR campaigns through the hearts of the underprivileged.
Ghulam Nabi Malik, President of Civil Society Pulwama, said that the practice is totally wrong but quickly added, “At least, they are providing something for the people to eat.”
“We have to step up and help people in need as a society, as a community and as human beings. If we leave the matter to NGOs, these things are bound to happen,” he lamented.
After being asked about this filthy practice, a top official in the J&K administration, who didn’t want his name to be mentioned, said that the authorities are making sure that such things don’t happen. “We are monitoring these NGOs at the district level and making sure they desist from such practices.”