Hyderabad: The Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to much fear and paranoia among the general populace, as evident from many confrontations and intimidation of infected patients or their relatives.
Sai Gopal’s is one such story, where his infected relatives were forced to evacuate a house they were living in temporarily at Kamala Nagar in Vanasthalipuram after colony residents reportedly threatened them with physical violence.
Gopal, is a resident of Saroornagar, has relatives hailing from Kollapur in Nagarkurnool district. His great aunt, an 86-year-old woman, and her son tested positive for Covid-19 a few days ago. Gopal’s family decided to bring the woman, her son and daughter-in-law to Hyderabad so that they could get better medical care.
Doctors at the hospital she was examined at said she could stay in home isolation with oxygen support until she recovers. Incidentally, Gopal’s mother has also tested positive for Covid-19, hence, the three could not stay at Gopal’s house. They had to find a place where they could stay for a few weeks.
Gopal said, “We checked with our relatives and friends. We found an independent house at Kamala Nagar, which has been empty for many years. The owner allowed us to use it for a few days. We moved them there three days ago.”
However, on Friday evening, everything changed when he and his sister Swaroopa came with an oxygen cylinder to replace an empty one. “Some colony residents saw the cylinder, gathered around us, and were very aggressively asking who we were and we were up to,” said Gopal.
The residents reportedly broke tree branches and threatened to beat up Gopal and his sister and hurled abuses at them.
“Once they realised my relatives were Covid-19 patients, they wanted us to take our relatives away from the colony immediately. They simply refused to listen to reason. This was around 11 pm, and I told them I would do so in the morning. They weren’t having any of it,” he said.
Gopal recalled how the residents didn’t even let him go home to get another car to transport his relatives. “I told the mob I would bring another car, but they told me ‘No! You won’t come back if you leave’,” he said. Gopal managed to get a cousin to bring another car, in which the three persons were finally moved.
Speaking over the phone to Deccan Chronicle, Gopal broke down recalling the ordeal. “Some residents picked up stones and threatened to throw them at us. There were 50 of them, and just two of us; we were too scared to even talk to them,” he said. The Vanasthalipuram police were reportedly asked to intervene, but according to Gopal, they sided with the colony residents.
“All through this, not a single soul thought how an 86-year-old Covid-19 patient could be transported in the middle of the night, and what impact it would have on her health. At around 11.30 pm, we decided we had to leave,” he said.
The family managed to find an isolation facility in Gachibowli, where the three persons are currently lodged. “The whole experience has shown us how horrible people can be to each other. We were truly afraid for our safety,” added Gopal.
Later, Gopal’s sister lodged a complaint against the colony residents, accusing them of verbal abuse and threatening them.
K. Venkat Reddy, sub-inspector, Vanasthalipuram Sector-I, acknowledged the complaint and said he was inquiring into it. “We will see if the complainant indeed had permission to stay at the house. If they did, we will definitely take action against those who might have intimidated them,” he said.