my fellow Kashmirians.
I’d like to speak to you directly today about the COVID-19 pandemic; a pandemic that threatens to overwhelm our society without decisive action.We have now confirmed that 5 Kashmirians have contracted the virus. In Worldwide, Covid-19 has taken 423,000 lives, a number that will also continue to rise.Our hearts ache for all of the Cases and their families affected by this virus. As we move forward, we cannot forget the losses they have suffered. This is a human tragedy, on a scale we cannot project.It’s time to hunker down in order to win this fight.So, today through this article, I am issuing a “Stay Home” order to fight this virus. This is the whole world “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. This includes a ban on all gatherings, and closures of many businesses, unless those businesses are essential to the healthy functioning of our community, or are able to let employees work remotely from home.It is still safe to go outside using social distancing of six feet but only for essential purposes. The grocery stores, doctor’s offices and other essential businesses will remain open. This also does not prohibit people from merely going outside to enjoy a walk on a sunny spring day.So life will go on, but for all of us in every part of Kashmir, with this in mind: Stay Home, Stay Healthy. The less time you spend out in public, the more lives we can save; the more time we can buy to fight the waves coming down on us now and in the immediate future.Now I would like to write down here to you about this order and what it means for you, your loved ones and our communities.This order builds on other unprecedented steps we have taken to protect Kashmirians including the closure of schools, all systems in a nutshell we can say Lockdown and other businesses where people congregate. We have been thoughtful and deliberate in making these tough choices.I have been very clear on the need for Kashmirians to stay home, but I have heard from health professionals, local officials and others, that people still — still — aren’t practicing these precautions. That is one reason why I am taking these steps.These measures are more stringent, our goal is the same: To reduce social interactions where this highly contagious virus can spread. This weapon, distancing ourselves, is the only weapon against this virus. And we have proven that it can work, but only if we actually use it.Here is what the order will do, effective for a minimum of two weeks:It essentially requires every Kashmirians to minimize physical contact with others, unless they are pursuing essential activities, like grocery shopping, going to a doctor’s appointment or the pharmacy, or if they work at a business deemed essential to continue functioning during an emergency.This does not mean you can’t go outside. If you feel like going for a walk, gardening or going for a bike ride, we consider that essential activity too for everyone’s physical and mental health. We all just need to practice social distancing of six feet to protect ourselves and others — everywhere, all the time. This order will immediately ban all gatherings of people for social, spiritual and recreational purposes.This also applies to some of the most important gatherings in people’s lives, like weddings and funerals, Zamindari, orchard fields. For the sake of all, even those occasions and working in those fields must be postponed.We expect everyone out there to comply with this order voluntarily. Because everyone knows all of our loved ones are at risk here. To be socially irresponsible in these times is to risk the lives of our loved ones. if we want to stop the rapid growth in the number of cases has put our state in a race against time. We need to grow hospital capacity or else face an even greater public health emergency.The more of us who stay home, the fewer of us who will be infected by COVID-19, and more lives will be saved.I am reminded of the work of the great American poet Walt Whitman. In “Song Of Myself”, he wrote of “the courage of present times and all times,” of fighting through the storm with knuckles tight and not giving back an inch to save others consumed by the tides.We need this now in Kashmir. We need this now in the World.Life will be different in Kashmir, but we will keep working until this pandemic is defeated.Until then, I make this promise to you, my fellow Kashmirians, borrowed from the same great poet:“Be of good cheer, we will not desert you.”Stay home. Stay healthy. Thank you, and be well.