Homecoming Finally

Homecoming Finally

After around two months, many stranded residents of Jammu and Kashmir across the country and outside are making the journey home in buses, trains, and aircrafts in an administration-coordinated plan.
The massive exercise is expected to last for a few days or a week, given the numbers of people who have registered with nodal officers in various states. Recently 168 students stranded in Bangladesh arrived at Srinagar airport.
It was followed by a letter written by Chief Secretary J&K to Foreign Secretary for early airlifting of remaining stranded students from Bangladesh so that they could reach home before ensuing Eid-ul-Fitr. As per the letter, 230-240 students are still stranded in Dhaka and are agitating for their early return to Jammu and Kashmir. The number could be more as can be depicted from a tweet by deputy commissioner Srinagar that “322 tickets booked today (Sunday).”
Besides, hundreds of stranded are being “evacuated” from different parts of the country amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
The government says that the arrival is highly “regulated homecoming” of the residents and “intensive protocols” are established for their district wise return.
There are provisions for testing all arrivals and institutional quarantine for the returnees.
One would feel that the returnees will be grateful to the government for its efforts, to the senior officers who have helped keep them being informed, to those who organized food and shelter as also to the airline, train and bus authorities who are carrying out these operations despite the risks of infection.
Many of those who have arrived have already tested positive for the pestilence and the administration would hope that the number remains within manageable parameters. Claims on one side, the readiness, and coping with the challenge on the other side is altogether a different ball game. Countries with the best healthcare facilities have been found wanting when the COVID-19 unleashed its attack. It is not clear if J&K has adequate health infrastructure to deal with this possible surge but the statements given by the government are assuring never the less.
In this context, it is necessary that quarantine facilities are well equipped and if early trends suggest, the government needs to build makeshift centers to deal with the large numbers of people who are returning.
In particular, the government needs to prepare for both a possible second wave of the novel coronavirus as well as a rapid increase in people needing to return given the downturn in economies nationally and globally.