In Times of Corona, Protesting Students Storm Online Platforms to Project Their Demands

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Online protest: Students demanding for PPEs for Doctors, Nurses and health workers and Food & Shelter for workers and needy.

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Scarcity of Personal Preventive Equipment (PPE) has been a challenge for healthcare workers. The preventive lockdown against Coronavirus (Covid-19) has worsened the situation for them. Students of different universities have taken to online social media platforms to lend voice to their demands.

Lakhs of students, on April 22, participated in a massive nationwide online campaign styled as ‘Stand For Humanity’ organised in response to a call of National Committee of the All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO) demanding adequate number of qualitative PPEs for all medical and paramedical staffs treating patients affected by the deadly and highly communicable COVID-19.

They also demanded food and shelter for the workers and all the needy.

The students prepared posters with the aforesaid demands in different languages and shared it widely through different social media in their bid to extend the support for the struggling doctors, nurses, other medical staffs and poor people of our country.

According to the organisation, their appeal evoked an overwhelming response from across the length and breadth of the country. “A big number of students though could not participate due to unavailability of internet or smartphone, have enthusiastically supported the campaign,” claimed Shibashish Praharaj, national office secretary of All India DSO.

Reports have undisputedly uncovered the scarcity of PPEs. “Several medical staff are getting caught by the Coronavirus in the absence of PPEs”, said Reshma, a student of MA Hindi at Garhwal University. “The health workers, in turn, unwittingly spread the virus to other patients worsening the situation,” she rues.

The participants alleged lack of sincere effort from the government to fight the pandemic. “Governments, including at the Centre and in the states, have miserably failed to provide PPEs to the health workers,” said Soumya Samal, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia.

A fear psychosis is prevailing among the people. Doctors as tenants are facing resistance from their landlords. They have no security. “Some of my doctor friends have been asked to leave their current accommodations,” said Arghya Das, a research scholar at International Center for Theoretical Science at Bangalore.

Photo of a man collecting milk from the road while a dog was licking the same milk, surfaced on social media platforms. Reports of the ordeal of migrant workers returning to their homes, hundreds of kilometers away, on foot have drawn attention of the students.

Talking about the workers trapped in metropolitan cities without job and food, a student of MA in Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Suman Mahato, said, “They are jobless, homeless and without food. They have been put into a situation where they have no option but to commit suicide.” Mahato urged the government to reach out to them with food supplies.

Criticising the role of Prime Minister, Pijus Gayan, a Ph. D scholar at Jadavpur University’s Linguistics Department, said, “Mere lockdown is not going to help the doctors.” He criticised him for the taali (clapping), thaali (ringing utensil) and (lighting of) diya (lamp) event. “The PM”, Gayan added “is again giving jumlas (false promises) to the public.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to the masses to donate to the PM CARES Fund. Responding to the appeal, Das said it was the duty of fellow countrymen to take care of the needy. “But as a leader, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure food security for the people,” Das told Clarion India. He said the PM CARES Funds should have reflected in the medical infrastructure and food security, but the government has miserably failed to do so.

Asked why they have not hit the road ala protestors in the US and Israel, Das said online campaigns cuts the risk of infection. “Also,” he added, “the government is on twitter, not on the ground. Hence, we chose to go for an online campaign.”

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