Kashmir’s familiarity with lockdowns is helping it to cope with the unprecedented global health crisis better but it is causing the valley greater distress than the ones in the past.There is no simmering anger and feeling of suppression normally associated with lockdowns of the past. The only thing that they are worried about at the moment is the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is definitely different from the previous turmoil that have taken place during the last decade,” said Muhammad Hammad, who is associated with one of the valley’s biggest and most loved sporting entities. Hammad, who plays as a defender at Real Kashmir FC, says the frustration remains the same, though. “It is frustrating as usual as we have witnessed a lockdown just months back,” he told PTI, referring to the clampdown following the revocation of Article 370.
“But again, ‘do we have a choice’? Absolutely no. The entire world does not have a choice. Everyone has to deal with patience. It is a global issue so the awareness is global, too.”Kashmir was under clampdown for months after the revocation of Article 370 last year, during which time internet and telephone services were suspended. “So, that also makes this one different from the past shutdowns, as we are able to access internet and make phone calls now,” said Sandeep Chattoo, co-owner of Real Kashmir FC.
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On expected lines, Khalid Qayoom, who is a midfielder in the same club as Hammad, agreed with his teammate and employer. “This is a very different lockdown from what we have witnessed here from last many decades as this threat is global, but the people in Kashmir very much know how to survive in situations like this,” Qayoom said. Hammad is worried at the increasing number of positive cases for the novel coronavirus in the valley.
“People are cautious, are taking necessary precautions and are not leaving their homes unless an emergency occurs. The graph of the cases here has slightly gone up but we believe in the mercy of God and from here on are expecting a non disastrous outcome,” Hammad said.
The last couple of weeks have been tough for Chattoo. From giving company to his stranded team coach David Roertson, who is desperate to get back to his ailing mother in Scotland, to taking care of his foreign players and other support staff, Chattoo is doing it all. Among the ones stranded in Chhatoo’s hotel in Srinagar are two of his key foreign players — Mason Robertson and Callum Higginbotham. “It has disturbed my plans to go see my fiancee who lives in America right now and I won’t be able to get there anytime soon but as long as she is safe with her family that’s all that matters,” Mason said.
What worries Higginbotham most is the uncertainty around the current situation. “The travel ban and lockdown has been really tough to deal with. Mentally it’s been hard just staying in the hotel not being allowed to go anywhere for the last 16 days has been tough.
My future plans are to get home safe and well to my family and spend some with my partner and kids, making sure all my loved ones get through this healthy and ok. But at this time there’s nothing anyone can do apart from taking care of themselves and being safe.”