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Coronavirus | Silence shrouds Dadri villages near Delhi as families grapple with loss

Virender Singh with his family members, showing his wife Savitri's photograph. She succumbed to COVID-19 after a week of treatment, at his residence in the Baidpura village, in Uttar Pradesh's Gautam Buddha Nagar.   | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

The fear of infection keeps residents inside their homes. Conversations about the mounting death toll among young people adds to the fear in this clutch of villages in the semi-urban belt of Dadri tehsil, a short distance from Delhi, in Gautam Budh Nagar district.

Outsiders are asked to sanitise their hands before a conversation can begin. Villager after villager told this reporter that “two to four” deaths were happening in their villages on a daily basis.

Some villages, they claimed, had recorded upwards of 20 deaths over the past 10 days. Their allegation — no arrangements for testing, primary healthcare, emergency hospitalisation or vaccination — have been made by the Uttar Pradesh government despite repeated requests.

Anees Khan, a resident of Shahberi village, told this reporter that he had lost two family members and hoped he wouldn’t lose another.

“My father and my uncle, both COVID positive, succumbed to the disease in a 10-day period. Now their mother, my daadi, is struggling with the disease,” he said.

“There is just one private hospital here, which is taking the entire load of COVID patients from multiple villages located in the area. Leave alone arrangements for testing or emergency health care, the government did not even carry out a sanitisation drive in our village,” Mr. Khan claimed.

Baidpura village, according to local social worker Mahavir Nagar, who lost a 50-year-old sister-in-law and a nephew in his 20s to COVID-19, said that at least or two deaths were taking place every day.

“No one from the government has come and there is no testing; if there is, no one has told us about it. Look around you, except us residents, the only other thing that walks these streets is not the administration, but death,” he said.

“My wife, Savitri, got fever and had to be taken to a private hospital in Greater Noida. I had to make calls and finally arrange for her oxygen on my own but for what? She had been in hospital from May 8 to 15 when she passed away,” Mr. Nagar’s nephew, Virender Singh, said.

At Sadullapur village, the local doctor ran away due to increasing number of infections and daily deaths, according to resident Bhupender Singh Nagar.

“The situation is so bad that one house has witnessed three cremations in four days. Other houses have seen the deaths of 17-18 year old boys. The village is as deserted as it is now almost all day long. People are afraid to step out,” he said.

“Ten days ago, there was at least one death every day but no one from the government came to check on us — even the Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath) didn’t pay us a visit when he came for a tour of the district on Sunday,” his father Jagat Singh alleged.

Most villages, residents said, were left with no alternative but to take the health and safety of their fellow citizens into their own hands.

They have ensured strict adherence to wearing masks on the street, restricted the movements of their children, encouraged the use of hand sanitisers both at home and outside, and also pooled resources for crowd-funded sanitisation drives.

“There have been four deaths in our village so far but no testing camps have been set up. Even sanitisation drives are being done through private service providers or, sometimes, by teams of residents who use buckets,” said Ratipal Nagar from Milak Lachchi village.


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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 2:26:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/death-haunts-dadri-villages-near-delhi/article34589510.ece

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