Neighbours Harassed My Sister Who Returned from COVID-Hit UK
There has been a sudden mushrooming of certain miscreants lately, who have assumed the roles of self-appointed invigilators of society at large, labouring under the mighty delusion that it's their duty to inform authorities about anyone who has entered India from international waters.
My sister traveled from Edinburgh to New Delhi two weeks ago. Conscious of the stigma around the Coronavirus outbreak, she self-isolated through this entire duration as a precautionary measure – even though the WHO and Central Government Advisory hadn’t kicked in yet. Needless to say, she was only let into the city after being screened and tested at the airport and after confirming that she didn’t have any symptoms in two weeks.
Neighbour Threatened Legal Action, Sent Text to Society Reside
A couple of days ago, she was targeted and threatened with legal action by an uncouth neighbour. He demanded to see her private travel documents, and after having seen proof of her date of arrival in the country, he sent out texts to society residents with misinformation; soon creating mass panic.
Infuriated, I texted friends about the episode, only to find out several other such horror stories of ostracizing by paranoid neighbours. One of these stories was about a man getting locked inside his apartment by neighbours because he had recently returned from the States. Another about a medical store owner, whose daughter had returned from the US. Mass messages were circulated among people all day, advising them against visiting his store. This was later reported to be the handiwork of a business rival.
Personal vendettas are being waged in the name of social responsibility. Petty gossip mongering and unverified WhatsApp messages from fickle sources seem to be dominating opinion.
Airline crew members, that are working tirelessly to bring thousands back home to safety, are being harassed and ostracized upon their return to their own homes by vigilante Residents Welfare Association (RWA) members and neighbours. But they didn’t once flinch before putting up this stupendous charade of banging plates and blowing conch shells in acknowledgement of these very ‘frontline’ people at 5 pm on Sunday evening.
We're living in dark, dystopian times, as it is. The world is scuffling with a belligerent force, the entire catastrophic potential of which, it still can’t quite comprehend. Turning on each other at a time like this is only going to exacerbate mass paranoia. It’s going to be a long time till we clamber our way back to life, as we knew it Before Coronavirus (BC).
But in the meanwhile, we need to conjure up all the compassion we can find in ourselves. We need to refrain from giving in to our hankering for playing God. We need to respect and closely follow health advisories. Most of all, we need to practise empathy. All of humanity is on trial. And we’re about to see nothing but true colours.
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