The contagion thrives on human mistakes, so the bottom line is do not commit one!
By: MS Nazki
The 93 Brigade Indian Army stands steadfast as a barrier between the virus and the people by providing the information and the basic safety coronavirus kit! That is the only way to fight it out!
Early this morning today I got a call from one of my friends from Srinagar. He is an out and out a businessman and has a flourishing dry fruit business established in the seventies of the last century by his burly strong and handsome father in seventies of the last century. Now that the old man Ashfaq (his father) loves to sit and watch his favorite old Hindi films mostly of Feroze Khan, Dharmendra, Ajit and Sheikh Mukhtaar, the son (my friend) Imtiaaz a lover of technology is in his own world obviously business is the first priority although. This was what he had to say in his husk loaded voice early in the morning, hey Kulbir, ‘I read something yesterday night and this is going to interest you?’ In a grumbling morning drawl I replied, ‘you could have told me about it later’. ‘No, listen to it now,’ I had no answer but to say ‘okay fine! Shoot out’ and this is what he said, ‘we are born. We die. Somewhere in between we live. And how we live is up to us. That’s it.’ That was nice I thought and I knew he was talking about the virus. But before I could say something he fired in yet another one, ‘we don’t study nature, nature studies us! So stop triggering nature, learn from the corona catastrophe!’ After this he stopped and remarked, ‘hope I didn’t disturb you, ‘I thought why not give a few lines to my friend to ponder over so that he could construct a story.’ He was right, he had send my brain on to the race tracks, 2020 was the year we all regressed back to the 1800’s and became fearful of killer viruses and 2021 was the worst as the second wave of the virus sent us reeling with nowhere to hide, stumped and stranded but there was a place in the Nation, in the mountains where the men in their camouflage fatigues were not only alert on their primary duty of keeping vigilance on the LOC but also concentrating heavily on the secondary one by keeping the people safe from the menacing and swarming attack of the virus. The awareness blitz launched is paying the requisite dividends now! The people are comparatively safe, the infections are less and the death rate God forbid is almost negligible!
We have always maintained that this virus will never come to you, it’s you who will somehow go to it. We will recreate a situation here and tell you as to how this phenomenon occurs. Certain parasites can bend the behavior of their hosts to serve their own purposes. Coronavirus did exactly that : seventeen people crowded into one small room, seventeen pairs of lungs breathing the same air, seventeen mouths drinking from the glasses and after sometimes forgetting which was theirs originally (common tendency), again and again, for hours. Obviously the result had to be a disaster. It happened in villages in UT Jammu where many cases are coming in dime a dozen. The villages in interiors far from the watchful eyes had an elaborate marriage season. What happened afterwards is coming out now. They are not getting themselves tested and are reluctant to share any kind of information. But nothing of this sort is there in District Poonch because the message is being well drilled in by the officers and men of the 93 Brigade and the same way, but someday soon, things will open up. Get back to normal. Kids around the district will be free again. Then you will see all of your friends, your family, and everyone. Someday soon in fact very soon! But till then, remain in your homes. At the moment that is the safest of all the precincts. If you get infected then the sirens of serious trouble will be ringing everywhere for you. So why allow such a situation to develop!
Before we come to the crux as to what 93 Brigade is doing on the corona front let us take the readers into the past as to what the Brigade has done in its illustrious and spectacular run so far:
- Having failed to capture Poonch in the 1947 and 1965 wars, Pakistan had made this a prestige issue, and this led to a third attempt to annex it in 1971. … From 1947 onward, the defense of the Poonch area had been the responsibility of Headquarters 93 Infantry Brigade, commonly known as the Poonch Brigade and they have done so with all their might displaying their superlative skills in the art of fighting.
- Military operations took place in Poonch district, then part of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, in 1948 during the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir between the Indian Army and Pakistani Army. Poonch withstood a siege by these forces from November 1947 until relieved by an Indian offensive, Operation Easy on 20 November 1948. The besieged garrison, commanded by Brig. Pritam Singh, was maintained by air supply.
- Military operations ended with Poonch town and the eastern part of Poonch district in Indian hands and western part of the Poonch district in Pakistani hands.
- Poonch and its surroundings were formerly a part of a Hindu principality in the state of Jammu and Kashmir under Dogra rule. Its political importance to Pakistan lies in its large Muslim population with ethnic affinities with dwellers across the line of control, and its economic importance in its large tracts of fertile agricultural land.
- It was once a profitable recruiting ground for the British Indian Army.
- Poonch’s capture would give access to the gullies over the Pir Panjal range for infiltration into Kashmir Valley and enlarge the adjoining Haji Pir bulge, already in Pakistani possession, right up to the Poonch river.
- The area is generally hilly and forested as it ascends the Pir Panjal range. The town and the valleys are about 900 metres above sea level, with mountain ridges rising to double this height, higher still nearer the range. Spurs run north to south from a ridge protruding from the Pir Panjal range.
*The old ceasefire line gave Pakistan the advantage of higher terrain to the extent that most of the area, including the airfield and parts of Poonch town, is overlooked from the Pakistani-held side. Most of the rivulets flow into the Poonch river, and prominent among them are Betar and Tanti-di-Tangar.
But besides that the Brigade has done a great job during the insurgency phase in which Pakistan always was involved in infiltrating militants but most of the attempts were thwarted as the traditional routes have been sealed and the new ones simply cannot be created because of high pedigree vigilance on the LOC but in 2021 the threat is of a different kind. It is an invisible terror which has crackled the psyche of the people. This devil’s instrument cannot be fought physically because it has the capability of incapacitating humans by scorching their lungs and thus leaving them gasping for breath. But still it has to be warded off for which the Brigade has put across great plans. The features of the plans laid are as mentioned below:
- Due to the second wave of COVID-19 and the imminent lockdowns amid the pandemic, the local population of the remote villages is facing hardships in terms of healthcare and routine necessary requirements. These villages are in inaccessible places and are well known to the officers of the various units deployed.
*In furtherance of its commitment towards welfare of the general public, Indian Army, Poonch Brigade organized an awareness drive for the locals on COVID-19 protocols at village Seklu.
- The aim of this event was to educate villagers about Do’s and Don’ts for effective check on the spread of COVID-19. Locals were educated for the necessity of timely vaccination, use of masks and hygiene with social distancing.
*During the event, medical screening of locals was carried out. Soaps, sanitizers, masks and COVID-19 information leaflets containing advisories were also given.
*This noble initiative of the Army was appreciated by the people, who face extreme difficulties and lack of medical facilities in these remote areas with limited accessibility.
*Over 45 people turned up from adjoining areas and availed this facility. This event will go a long way in alleviating the health issues of the local population and further strengthen the national drive against COVID-19 pandemic.
- This is not the first time it is being done and neither it would be the last. Today it was at Seklu tomorrow it will be at some other place as the Covid prevention and safety drive launched by 93 Brigade will spread to all places in its jurisdiction!
For the villages this is great. All they have to do is to follow the protocols, avoid the virus and be safe, they may say that when they look outside, they feel nothing, when they look outside they feel nothing, they are under the lockdown of emotions, completely blank, it’s black everywhere… suffocating, claustrophobic, saturation points have all been crossed but they should realize that all this will go, their happiness is due, it will come back but they should not rush into it. If they do, the results can be seen everywhere in the Nation. We hurried into everything after the first wave and the virus hunted us down and clogged our flight! Just ponder over it!