Under the ‘Count Every Death’ campaign jointly organized by intellectuals and social activists across the country, CPIML activists in Patna and various other parts of Bihar on 13 June honoured the memory of all the people who died during the Covid period by lighting candles and remembering every death. This campaign, 'Remembering loved ones, Count every death, Share every sorrow' is being organized every Sunday across the country.
At the state party office in Patna State Secretary Kunal, Samkaleen Lokyudh Edutor Pradeep Jha, Prakash Kumar and other leaders along with people from the local neighbourhood lit candles and paid tributes to all those who died in Covid times.
Comrade Kunal said that citizens of the country came to each other's aid and faced the challenges of Covid-19 when governments abandoned them. Lakhs of people including doctors and health workers died due to Covid, black fungus, and a decrepit health system. The number of those who died untested far exceeds that of those identified as Covid deaths. They had all the Covid symptoms and they died, and they should also be counted by the government as Covid deaths. We are holding this campaign so that people do not suffer the same pain again, as we know that a 3rd wave of Covid is imminent.
AIPWA State Secretary Shashi Yadav led the memorial in Chitkohra in Patna. Local people attended the memorial, following Covid protocol. Shashi Yadav said that those who had critical diseases other than Covid also died due to lack of room in hospitals and could not be buried or cremated with dignity due to lack of space. The poor were constrained to leave their dead in rivers or bury them on river banks. The entire country is suffering this pain even today. Senior leader JD Yadav also lit a candle to remember and mourn the dead. A condolence meeting was also held at the CPIML legislative party office.
All victims of Covid times were remembered and honoured across villages under the call for 'Count Every Death'. CPIML MLAs organized the campaign in their respective areas. They said that the government wants us to forget the death of our loved ones, but we cannot forget even a single death. We shall keep alive the memory of every name.
In response to the call given by the All India ASHA Coordination Committee, the Bihar State ASHA Workers Sangh organized memorial meetings at PHCs and Sadar Hospitals on 15 June to honour the memory of ASHA workers who died during the Covid pandemic period. Despite pouring rain, hundreds of memorial meetings were organized across the State. Large numbers of people remembered their loved ones by offering floral tribute at the portraits of deceased ASHA workers.
National Convener of the All India ASHA Coordination Committee and Bihar State ASHA Workers Sangh President Shashi Yadav said that it is indeed very painful that not even a list of deceased ASHAs has been prepared either by the State or by the Centre. The government is not serious about anything, from treatment to compensation, whereas ASHAs have stood firm in the frontlines of the battle against the Corona pandemic. She demanded from the State and Central governments that they should guarantee Rs 10 lakhs health insurance for ASHA workers.
Lakhs of people died due to lack of medical facilities because the government did not make preparations for the 2nd Covid wave. A large number of ASHA workers heroically battling Corona on the frontlines died because they had no proper safety equipment. Today governments are shirking their responsibility of giving them dignity and respect and providing social security to their bereft families. The government does not have statistics related to ASHA deaths, and is hiding whatever figures they do have.
Therefore, in response to the All India ASHA Workers Coordination Committee call for 'Remember loved ones, Count every death, Share every sorrow', AICCTU-affiliated Uttarakhand ASHA Health Workers Union activists organized a memorial meetings and paid tribute to all the deceased ASHA workers by lighting candles, holding posters and placards, and observing a minute's silence.
ASHA Health Workers Union State General Secretary Dr Kailash Pandey said that the government says ASHAs are Corona Warriors, but gives them no facilities. They had to bear their own medical costs and were not paid the Rs 50 lakhs compensation announced by the government. Moreover, the government is hiding the true numbers of ASHAs who have died. Their Corona period honorarium is also not being paid timely. Since the Modi government came to power ASHAs' work load has increased enormously but they are being paid a meagre Rs 2000 monthly honorarium and the government refuses to guarantee their safety.
Through the memorial meeting the demand was made for Rs 10,000 monthly Corona allowance and health insurance of Rs 10 lakhs for all ASHA workers. The memorial meetings were attended by ASHA workers and social activists in large numbers, observing Corona protocol.
CPIML Bihar State Secretary Kunal said on 20 June that the government cannot run away from paying Rs 4 lakhs compensation to each of the families of persons who died of Covid. Ìt should be noted that the government told the Supreme Court on 20 June that it will not be possible to give compensation to families of people who died of the Corona virus.
CPIML has strongly condemned the government's argument that as the Disaster Management Act has provision for compensation only for natural disasters line earthquakes, floods etc, families of Covid victims cannot be paid compensation.
The government has also cited limited resources as a reason for not paying compensation, saying that there is already financial pressure on the Central and state governments. But when these governments want to benefit corporate companies, huge sums are arranged overnight. The government must answer why loans worth lakhs of crores were waived for corporate companies. If there is so much pressure on the government, why is a new Parliament House and Central Vista being built in these straitened conditions?
The government could arrange neither health facilities nor timely Covid vaccination for the people, and now they are backing down even from paying compensation. Why does it not tax corporate houses and arrange for money? On the contrary, the price of petrol, diesel, and food items is being hiked sky high and the people are being looted.
There can be no bigger disaster than Covid. There is mayhem and chaos everywhere in the country. There have been deaths from house to house. Unemployment is at a peak due to the lockdown. People are starving without food. Therefore, we reiterate our demand for Rs 4 lakhs compensation for families of not only those who are recorded as Covid deaths in government statistics but all those who have died during this pandemic period. The government cannot run away from this responsibility.