DR. S.V. SINGH, OMBUDSPERSON - E-mail ID: ombudsperson@santosh.ac.in

First of all, you will have a big question of why I am writing on a COVID-19 rather than taking you to the journey of amazing places? I am not a health expert, doctor, or epidemiologist, then why should I talk about this topic? But the events which rapidly developed in the last few days forced me to talk about this topic. As I am also part of this society I have both rights and duties to speak against all the wrongs happening in it.

The incident and events which I will mention are based on true events and to keep secrecy the real name of people and places are changed. This gets started when a tenant contacted us for accommodation From Delhi. As the tenant was very eager and genuine and had the limitation of e-pass validity. We agreed to host after verifying their identity, Arygoyasetu app status, and their COVID test results which were negative at that time, all those were required as per the Government of India guideline. After finalizing the contract we went to inform neighbors about it. But from the start, they resisted even after knowing that the tenants will be in 14 days home quarantine and when we told that now it is impossible because they have arrived from Delhi because of only our assurance and trust. Knowing that tenant will stay in the independent floor with independent entry and face to face contact with us they told us to go to forced quarantine for 14 days even if there is no such government guideline, but we readily agreed for voluntary quarantine, as we don't want to take any risk as we are concerned for our neighbors. On the next day, we accommodated the tenants with full safety measures and told them to follow all guidelines and instructions for home quarantine. They also informed that they have been screened at the Uttarakhand border and their sample of COVID-19 test has also been collected. They also visited the nearest police station and informed about their arrival. As they know they have to remain in home quarantine for 14 days they have come with full preparation. For the first 10 days, they don't even open their door, and they updated us digitally only. On the 10th day, they informed us that their arogyasetu status is red, which means they have been tested positive. As soon as they knew it they informed the district COVID-19 cell and shared their information with the Government of Uttarakhand for required action. We also informed the nodal officer of Dehradun district who handles the Covid-19 emergency and also told him to send an ambulance to take the Mr.reddy who has been found positive. But as he was asymptomatic and was fully fit they took a long time. After 2 days of continuous follow up they sent an ambulance and took him to the COVID hospital of Dehradun.

Within 15 minutes of this event, we received a video with a message with the intent of defaming us and creating panic in the society. The video was recorded when mr.reddy was going in the ambulance and her wife is seeing off. But the matter doesn't end here's as the video was taken without any permission and contained a message especially quoting us by our name. We strongly opposed the video as it was exploiting our right to privacy and was defaming our image in society. By the evening the video was circulating in social media platforms with a defamatory message. The results of this misinformation were that society boycotted us and stopped all the essential services and our immediate neighbor stopped looking towards us. From the next day, the designated garbage collector of municipal corporation refused to collect garbage from our house, the milkman stopped the milk, the electrician refused to come during an electricity leakage in our house. The reason for their refusal was the video and message due to which they felt that even if they will see towards our house they will get infected. After various complaints to our RWA, the essential services wee resumed but the social stigma remains intact.

As my parents were doctors they were able to handle such a stressful situation as they have a different outlook towards a pandemic as compared to an ordinary layman. A true doctor is always ready to do the help and serve others even if he/she has to go against the whims of society. It is very shameful for a well-educated society and RWA that instead of helping the family of a COVID-19 victim society collectively stigmatized and defamed them. How can we refuse a single lady with the responsibilities of 2 small kids and 2 senior citizen parents? Will it will be fair to throw them out of our house? Will this is humanity? The family was willing to go back to Delhi without troubling us but as an epidemiologist, my father took all steps to support the government of Uttrakhand to manage and contain the infection. Instead of refusing them, we supported them fully by following all the safety norms. We Provided them milk, fruits, and vegetable as they were unable to buy it even after wearing a proper face shield, face mask, gloves, washing hands with soap, rubbing hand sanitizer, and following social distancing norms as their family was boycotted by our society and RWA. I want to ask the society that ever they have tried to look into the mindset of corona victims and their family which is a much bigger victim? Have they can ever understand through what mental trauma was the family of corona victims were passing through from the timing they have known that one of their family members was tested positive? The organized and collective stigmatization by our society can put these victims in severe depression, which ultimately can lead to suicides......have the society have ever thought about it? Huh..how society can ever think about it as they are busy in hypocrisy .....at one end they are clicking pictures while distributing food packets to migrant laborers, at the other hand they are discriminating against the COVID warriors and victims...at the one end they are not following social distancing, not wearing masks and washing their hands at regular intervals, on the other end they will blame the COVID WARRIORS AND DOCTORS for transmitting the disease. Such an educated society can only clap their hands in the front of fake reel heroes in the cinema hall or while watching the news on their televisions and smartphones in Air-Conditioned bedrooms, but can never provide respect to COVID Warriors and victims.COVID has come and will go in two years time but what will remain is the mentality and the attitude of society.

There are ads by the government telling people to "Fight the disease, not the patient", but all these social messages going in vain. In addition to ads, the government should take strict action against those who are discriminating and stigmatizing. But with this all this also I want to add that the humanity is not completely died yet. As there are people such as Mr.singh who fully supported us and stood up against the stigmatization of society boldly and even went against the people our colony and the RWA, for supporting COVID warriors and doctors. Once again I want to request you all to follow social distancing, wear a face mask, and wash your hands for 20 seconds to remain safe from coronavirus. Once again I want to repeat that all the names of people and persons have been changed to keep secrecy. There is no intent to target specific citizens or society, but the real aim is to expose the hypocrisy and bitter truth of OUR society.