by BISMumbai Correspondent

The official COVID-19 statistics as available on 05 June 2020, report 19, 000 plus COVID-19 confirmed cases in Gujarat, of which Gandhinagar accounts for 380 cases with 15 reported deaths. Many narratives of turmoil, incidences of sudden deaths and distressful occurrences are reported each day. One such unfortunate situation in Garod village of the Kapadvanj Block in Kheda District, was addressed by DRISTI Don Bosco Kapadvanj.

The remains of a deceased female nonagenarian who breathed her last battling perilous circumstances in Gandhinagar was ferried back to the village, in an eco-van loaded with the lady's relatives. Apart from the appalling disregard for the strict guidelines issued in case of transportation of the dead and other last rites procedures, a young female adult, aged 23, who had earlier undergone the COVID-19 testing with results yet awaited was also part of the grieving entourage.,

As the last rites were underway, a positive-confirmation message was delivered via cellphone, regarding the accompanying young lady. This led to pandemonium, with the Health Department swinging into action full-throttle! The entire lot of relatives who had accompanied the dead nonagenarian from Gandhinagar, packed to the eco-van's full capacity, were post-haste unceremoniously shunted off for further check-ups. Eventually all of these were quarantined in Ahmedabad. Incidentally, Ahmedabad is the biggest hotspot, with an alarmingly staggering surge in the number of increasing confirmations and mortality, accounting for 13, 675 plus cases, with 965 of the 12,00 total deaths in Gujarat state.

Meanwhile, the people who had gathered for the last rites, 17 families and 85 individuals of one specific faliya cordoned off, were placed into home-quarantine with immediate effect. This resulted in total chaos, with the people unable to procure milk and food provisions. DRISTI, which has been involved in the social development of Garod village for the past 10 years, decided to procure the needed provisions. Accordingly, 500gm milk, 02kg potatoes, 02 kg onions, and 01 kg brinjals [eggplants] were provided to each family.

Father Mayank Parmar Director-DRISTI said, "Upon reaching the Ganj market in Kapadvanj to buy the vegetables and other items, the shopkeeper enquired the reason for such a huge purchase and promptly slashed the selling price. Another shopkeeper overheard our conversation and voluntarily packed 02 kg onions each for the 17 families!" Shailesh Parmar DRISTI Programme Officer shared, "yes, the situation is pathetic all around, but such instances, where traditional customs and practices are disrupted creates anger, ill-feeling and sometimes even violence. Thankfully, people are able to empathise and help each other. We are hoping the situation improves soon."

Davidbhai Rathod, one of the affected villagers said, "Don Bosco is the first organization who has come with relief aid to our area with all that we need." Ushaben Rathod Village Education Programme [VEP] teacher managed a smile in the bleak scenario saying, "thanks to you, we can now have tea with milk and begin our day well, despite the sadness all around."