BY: SWETA CHOUDHURY
In life, infinite things may seem good, some are even better than “just good”. However only a few things are imperative or in the language of law “fundamental” to survive in this world. Undoubtedly the Coronavirus pandemic 2019 is an eye-opener in realizing and accepting the fact that there is nothing greater than the safety of your life and well being. Sadly, while caring and helping one another has become a cliché in our society, self-safety plus protection of your life still should be the requisite goal concerning every individual in this world. As a media student working as a content creator, and writer I might not possess the technical knowledge about the law to argue standing in a courtroom. However, what I do know are the basic rights of a human being from the Constitution of India.
Case Study of Kalia Bindhani
Today we will focus on how the two most important articles namely RIGHT TO LIFE (Article 2 of Human Rights Act) and RIGHT TO LIFE AND PERSONAL LIBERTY (Article 21 of Indian Constitution) has been violated in broad daylight in an educated contemporary Indian society. Yet the media still seems to be ignorant about it simply because it does not come across as a commercially appealing news story to invite limelight and increase Television Rating Points.
According to a story by Hindustan Times Kalia Bindhani, a 30- year-old middle-aged man working in Ganjam district in Odisha, India returned home on May 9, 2020 to his village Sarkarnagar which geographically falls under Saraswatipur gram panchayat of Balasore district with a feeling of dejection after losing a job due to the unexpected circumstances of the pandemic. Alas with no space in his one-room tiny hut where 12 people were already residing, he chose the public toilet adjacent to his house to quarantine, despite showing no symptoms of the virus. A sticker was also attached to the toilet door to alarm every one of Bindhani’s quarantine. This is a violation of Article 2 of Human Rights Act as one of its constituents precisely states “Public authorities should also consider your right to life when making decisions that might put you in danger or that affect your life expectancy”. Bindhani possibly would have been quarantined longer in the unsanitized toilet had the Naib sarpanch did not notice and rise and discuss this issue with the village sarpanch Manoj Sethi. Upon interrogation, the Naib sarpanch Sethi said that he struggled to make the right choice upon the absence of accurate quarantine guidelines for migrants from the government.
Now my question is in a state like Odisha with 437 pre-existing positive cases so far, and 300 additional cases just amongst the people living in quarantine how can the state expect to not see a rise in cases unless they impose correct facilities and guidelines? It seems rather unethical that amongst all the people quarantined in these centers there have been reports of serving terrible food and providing barely any water to use by these migrants. It is sad to say the right to live with human dignity and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution has been violated. Although, after several complaints, Bindhani was shifted to a primary school to further complete quarantine he still went ahead to complain in distress about the absence of a proper bed to sleep and absence in lack of food in the school. Additionally, Bindhani is not the initial person whose basic rights seem to be violated but previously several workers who were quarantined in Gangnam’s Belguntha block refused to eat the breakfast served in the morning tide calling it “unconsumable”. We must not neglect that in a country like India where the average daily wage of a regular worker appears to be approximately 300 INR to 700 INR (approx. 6-9 USD $) does not uphold the privilege to afford luxurious quarantine facilities for themselves. Likewise, there are thousands of Indians stranded abroad who are unable to come back home because of the sudden disruption of flights. Kudos to the Modi government for providing evacuation flights under Vande Bharat Mission to bring them back but considering the price and population of our country, can everyone bear it?
I understand that this is a difficult time for every single individual, but come what may, shelter, food, health, and well being are the rights every human being on this planet is worthy of. In 2020, it is logically seeming disappointing to hear justifications from the government about the failure to provide these needs of the people. What is the true essence of democracy and what is the duty of law if an individual cannot access these basic rights despite living in a democratic society? Leaving aside their respective religion, financial background, or caste they belong to, who and where are their representatives to lend them a voice? Sadly, Bindhani including many like him whose difficulties remain unspoken justice seems like an endless war with the system and themselves. God knows how unsanitized Bandhan’s bathroom was or the quantity of food he was served. These are some questions that I cannot help but deliberate upon as I indite this down.
Nine out of ten stories like this fail to come out and reach the masses, this is that one story ladies and gentlemen that make you and I doubt the system yet again and wish for change. Although in several states’ things have been quite impressive in terms of the support rendered by the government and other notable figures like Bollywood actor Sonu Sood and several others. However, as a nation presently, we still have a long way to go. It is said that justice is an abstract and law is based on the truth, hence, I just have one question to the people of India that all must perpetually reflect upon until our rights are at the hold of our grips, what is the value of the life of a person in India? Is demanding a proper quarantine meal too much or is claiming for a proper bed to sleep is too much? Looks like the time has really arrived for us to think and realize that silence against injustice is greater than committing a crime itself. Not only does it haunt you with guilt but also seeks your morals with it. Listen, learn, speak, and educate before it is too late.