The world is weeping to see lacs of innocent people bidding adieu to the world in a very painful way due to Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). As per the latest report, more than 19 lacs are confirmed positive for COVID-19 in the world while more than a lac people have died due to COVID-19 and almost four and a half lac people have recovered from the trap of the deadly virus. In India alone, more than 10,000 have been confirmed positive for the COVID-19 while more than three hundred have lost their lives due to this pandemic.
The Indian government took the necessary step and declared a nationwide lockdown on March 25. Where the world is praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking the necessary and early step like lockdown for the containment of the spread of the deadly virus, many in the nation are facing some unprecedented difficult situations. On Tuesday, April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of nationwide lockdown till May 3.
The government is taking all the necessary steps to bring the COVID-19 confirmed cases down to a lowest number, on contrary to which, the number is gradually ascending, leaving the whole nation depressed. The state of Maharashtra has reported maximum number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. The number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the state has surpassed 2,000 mark and has reported death of 149 as on Monday, April 13.
Amid the whole struggle of the government and the citizens, Ajanta News reached out to a differently abled resident of Mumbai, Divya Arora, who spoke her heart out on the lockdown. Arora is a physically challenged yet talented Film-writer and a resident of Andheri West of Mumbai. The Film-writer lives by her own in the ‘Mayanagari’ despite being physically challenged.
The 40-year old media professional delineated her ordeal during the lockdown and how she is facing a bunch of challenges due to COVID-19 lockdown. A nature-wise calm and mature citizen, Arora gets furious when asked of government’s steps for the physically challenged people during lockdown. Ajanta News decided to be her voice and highlight the loopholes in the hollow claims of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on the facility to the citizens during lockdown.
We had a bunch of questions for Arora pertaining to her condition during lockdown, who answered the questions with her heart filled with emotions and pain. Let’s look at what Arora has to say about COVID-19 effect in her life and how she is facing the challenges
Ajanta News Team: Had you ever imagined that a situation like this would ever register in your diary? What would you like to say about current situation for people, especially, for differently abled people?
Divya Arora: Never.. Never.. I think it’s very painful, it’s very sad, because government always says they are helping people, they are providing food, they are providing ration and they are giving money, nothing is happening for disabled people. Everybody is focusing on old people, senior citizens & fully abled people. Nobody is focusing on the differently abled people. Nobody is talking about what will be the health of handicap people.
Ajanta News Team: How are you coping up with the lockdown situation which is extending for more 15 days now?
Divya Arora: I think, it is very tough. I live alone in Mumbai and you know, we are not used to being in the house all the time, we are working people. I am a part of film industry and because of this lockdown, we are facing financial issues too.
Ajanta News Team: What all challenges are you facing right now? And what would you like the government to do for the differently abled people during lockdown?
Divya Arora: See, they (differently abled people) require medical attention. Providing proper facilities through government, so that we are able to take proper medication. Probably, some (such) people are requiring injections, every week injections, but how do we go to the hospital? and no doctor is ready to come home (to provide the required medication). What if there are some emergency? then what…? Imagine if you have a maid, and the maid comes in the morning but not in the evening. Especially, when we are dependent on maid or a nurse or a helper, they (government) have to be sensitive. They (government) have to provide pension and maintainance support like in the western countries. Local authorities have to be told about them (differently abled people). Imagine if my maid doesn’t come, how do I have bath, how do I have my medicines…? PM Modi is mentioning that he is giving 5,000 rupees a month. I haven’t received even 5 rupees from the government..It’s not about receiving the amount, it’s about services and support. The government needs to provide and be equal to all .
Ajanta News Team: So are you saying that the government is just not focusing on the differently abled people? they are just focusing on senior citizens, and fully abled persons?
Divya Arora: Absolutely! I mean, are we worst? are we not human? When our votes are needed to win the elections then you are very much thinking of how to make the voting centres accessible. But now in this situation, nobody is thinking about us. Are we getting the required support? Our country has a commissioner of disabilities, India, he should be involved with every CM to ensure that persons with disabilities are safe, getting support and are fine during the lockdown.
Ajanta News Team: In this generation where differently abled people are considered at par with fully abled people, do you think your challenges during lockdown is different than others?
Divya Arora: No no no … First of all, your question is wrong, we are not considered at par with the normal people. If we were, then, even we had lived a normal life just like all other normal people and we were not to go through what we have to go through right now. There is no equality, there is still a discrimination. Everywhere, all the time, even during this lockdown. Government is not even considering us that we exist.
Ajanta News Team: Maharashtra has maximum number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, do you think Maharashtra government has failed as a Government to cope up with the current pandemic situation?
Divya Arora: No… No… No… I think we are very efficient and the state is dealing with this situation the best it can. This is a national crisis, in fact a global challenge, so no Government to be blamed. It’s time we come together as ‘Indians’ rather than be regional..The need of the hour is to stay united and conquer Corona and not play the blame game between states..
Ajanta News Team: If you were the chief minister of Maharashtra, what would have been your primary steps to make Maharashtra immune from COVID-19?
Divya Arora: I would have ensured a complete curfew, a complete lockdown, would have requested for the army to be deployed here. I would have made this mandatory for every citizen of Maharashtra to follow the lockdown rules but also make the essential services continue to support everyone so that nobody stays hungry, everyone gets food, and especially, a 24 hour helpline number for the disable people.
Ajanta News Team: How are you spending your time during this lockdown?
Divya Arora: I am a media professional, I am a film writer, so I am writing web series on Corona.
Ajanta News Team: What steps would you like to advise to the government to help the differently abled people during lockdown?
Divya Arora: A 24 hour helpline number for the differently abled people. A specific group of volunteers must visit to the differently abled people because everybody is so mentally disturbed. So that there is one volunteer for each disable person. This needs to be considered as an essential thing. See, if the 24 hour helpline is there, but some disabled people are mute then how will they phone? How will they talk? That’s why volunteers are essential for them. And the goverment needs to help all to self-sustain them; like provide a monthly pension to them. But not like take 2000 rupees or 5000 rupees, as you (government) are not doing any favor on people. When you (government) are providing official pension to the retired people then why not to the disabled people?
Ajanta News Team: What would you like to appeal to the people of Maharashtra who are battling right now against COVID-19?
Divya Arora: Stay home, stay safe, stay isolated.
Ajanta News Team: What would you suggest to the differently abled people to follow during lockdown?
Divya Arora: This is a very generic question. The answer will depend on how disable the person is. If you are severe then you are anyways confined to the house. But if you are mobile, if you are not very disable, if you are able to work, if you are able to do your activites yourself then the best thing to do is maintain social distancing, social isolation and keep sanitizing.
Ajanta News Team: As you are a Film-writer, have you written anything on COVID-19 or for differently abled people?
Divya Arora: Yes, I’m actually a film writer , I try to incorporate the ‘differently-abled‘ context but it’s not always possible…I have written a poem on Corona as well as disabled people and here it goes.
“Social distancing may be the prevention
But for a few, the same would need an exception
Most are self capable to follow court’s order
Maintaining physical distance to them is of no bother
They are the ones who are self sufficient but what about those who are referred to as being incompetent..
some call us ‘Disabled’ while others are following the United Nations and decide to glorify us as ‘Differently Abled’
It’s us who often remain ignored
Are the ones who get the sores
Facing social segregation our lives are completely bore….
When we try making efforts to prove we are also able, all in return we are offered with the response that you are nothing and are only disable..
We are always seen as receivers
ignoring some of us who are achievers
Nothing in our lives get us respect and dignity
Because our best abilities are overshadowed by our physical disabilities
When we are not given full social inclusion
then how could we be asked to maintain isolation
What we live everyday is humiliation because being dependent on others, we need them for our every facilitation
This isolation makes life even worse
Because, especially, in India, being ‘Disabled’ or glorified as ‘Differently Abled’ is nothing less than a curse..
We are told to stay away
To be safe and remain healthy
If We stay at bay
Please tell us how
When some of us can’t even say
What and when we want or need
Because we are a special warrior breed
From the moment we came to this world
from our period in the incubator to our becoming the voice being orators
When we cannot even fold our hands to pray
Then social distancing as the order
How is it possible for us to obey”
Ajanta News Team: Finally, what do you have to speak about PM Modi’s efforts as we cannot ignore his efforts to keep India immune from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Divya Arora: My hats off to our prime minister, PM Modi, who is working round the clock to ensure the exit of corona.. but how much can he do alone? What is required is all the citizens to follow his guidelines- if our PM is standing with us then it’s each citizen’s duty to stand by him and follow what he is wanting the nation to do..it’s my utmost request to each one – differently Abled or Abled to maintain social distancing..We need to abide by the rules set down during the lockdown if we want India to become a winner in the war against Corona. Apart from being a film maker, I’m also a disability activist..and through your publication, I request to urgently meet PM Modi to further discuss equal opportunity and infrastructure support with services the government could do for the ‘differently-abled Divyang’.. making them second to none !
Ajanta News team has now spoken to its social arm, Young Nation’s Youth Foundation (YNYF NGO), to step forward to help Divya Arora and assist her, in whichever possible manner. YNYF NGO has been helping the underprivileged and needy people with food and other possible things. We will update this article as soon as the local authorities respond to help Divya Arora in this difficult situation.
Wednesday, April 15, 8:43 pm YNYF NGO contacted Ajanta News team and apprised them about the difficulty in assisting Divya due to prohibition of movement without permission. The Ajanta News team spoke to the Shiv Sena Corporator, Yashodhar Phanse, from Andheri West, whose locality Divya lives in, and narrated him the ordeal of Divya Arora. Phanse, immediately, asked his party man, Sudhakar Ahire, to facilitate the help to physically challenged Arora. Sudhakar contacted Divya and provided her with the ration she required at the moment. Sudhakar informed our team that he along with many of his supporters are providing free rations to the helpless people in his locality. He praised his corporator, Phanse, and his constituency’s Member of Parliament (MP), Gajanan Kirtikar, for their guidance to the party workers during this unprecedented epidemic in the country. He asked our team to not hesitate to reach out to him if anyone in his locality is in need of any help and we come to know about it. We salute these brave hearts of Mumbai who are selflessly helping the helpless and needy people during this profoundly difficult situation in the nation.