When I write this, the coronavirus pandemic death toll of Kasaragod in Kerala remains just 2, but deaths as a result of the sudden lockdown, and lack of proper medical infrastructures and facilities and the immediate closure of Kerala-Karnataka border is 7. It not only fails to turn into exclusive news but also does not receive the same rating as that of the virtual hatred that is being created in social media against Kasaragod.
As Salim Deli, a native of Kasaragod, says, being one from the place itself makes it mandatory to face two challenges simultaneously. And being through the harder times of COVID-19 only strengthens this need. The hate campaigns and defamations from Kerala’s elite leftists have never been ended yet. The Sangh Parivar ideology of the ‘othered’ and the ‘anti-national’ has won to create a common notion that, “the outsider and treasoner Mulla has brought the pandemic of the corona to the country! “.
The entire visual and social media were merely behind a single COVID-19 patient. The District collecter turned heroic in adamantly canceling the man’s passport while the Pathanamthitta native turns into a mere Italian, whose passport and visa doesn’t matter the Keralite social consciousness. The media, that had been discussing his route maps and daily cycles for hours, had shown little interest in the inadequacies of the district’s health system.
Apart from virtual and visual media harassments, the place is forced to face the usual neglect and harassment of the governments too. One from the Kerala Bureaucracy and the other from the Karnataka govt. The Kasargod collector’s threat to block passports of the 2 expatriates alone is enough to explain the hatred of the Kerala bureaucracy towards the district. The collector who threatens the patients that they no longer is going to see gulf again, the inhuman chasing and beating up of people in the streets and claims of the incorporation of the expat patient all resonates this same language of hatred towards the people.
The isolation wards of the district were flooding with cats and insects, even in the food provided for the patients. Expats were asked to appear for tests daily and most were sent back after hours of waiting. The same bureaucracy of the heroic District collector and medical superintendent made fewer measures in this. Moreover, the failure of the state in observing and creating awareness for the patient put the entire blame blindly on the expat.
During the last Manjeswaram by-election, BJP MP of South Kannada, Nalin Kumar Katil said that Kasaragod should be made into a second ‘Kashmir’. The same MP suggested that no vehicle from Kasaragod during the lockdown – even if it was an ambulance – should not be crossed. All the routes from Kasaragod to Karnataka have been blocked by the decision of the BJP government of Karnataka.
When agony and afflictions of the endosulfan victims of the district remain in its atmosphere persistently, not even a single multi-specialty hospital is built in Kasaragod. Currently, people are forced to depend on the private hospitals in Mangalore and the Pariyaram Medical College of Kannur. As the road to Mangalore has been closed as a result of the Sangh communal conspiracy, people remain helpless in the district.
The reason for the district’s inadequate medical infrastructures is the state’s inconsistent left and right governments itself. And the same state is now appealing in the Supreme Court and sending requests for the central government to reopen its border. This long neglection of the state itself is the reason for Kasaragod’s current state of increasing medical emergency during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Kasargod Medical College was allocated and passed out along with the Manjeri and Palakkad Medical Colleges. Although the foundation stone was laid in the year of 2013, the hospital work went still soon. The Medical College was supposed to accommodate 300 beds and to be functional within the year of 2015. Though Wayanad and Kollam Medical Colleges’ constructions, allocated very later, is progressing rapidly, Kasaragod Medical College remains the same.
The Prabhakaran Commission, appointed for the investigation of Kasaragod district’s undersupplies, reports the district’s lack of adequate medical facilities. The lack of facilities in general hospitals, deprivation of an ample number of doctors and medical staff, a minimum of 4-hour journey to provide emergency medical services for even accident cases and so on. Moreover, the commission has finally submitted that a budget of 2388 lakhs should be needed to renovate the situations, which is completely and repeatedly neglected in the yearly budget passings.
Despite all these hurdles, the people of Kasaragod survived these pathetic situations only due to the aid and support of its gulf expats. The usual Sangh conspiracy of the ‘communal othering’ of the Kasaragod Muslims has become Kerala’s common notion of Kasargod even in these times of the corona outbreak.
Nayif, one of the main international market hubs of Dubai is called a ‘mini Kasaragod’. It remains to be an international connecting point for traders. Therefore it could be considered as one of the main reasons for the increased number of COVID patients reported in the district, and not the communal conspiracy theory, of the Mappila virus, infecting and spreading in its own native land.
Muhammad Farhan is an environmental engineer who hails from Kasaragod and works in Abu Dhabi.
This article is originally published in Malayalam and translated into English by Nada Nasrin, a student at Delhi University