Don’t panic…….

…….at the most you will die
Don’t panic…….

`Nothing can stop the disaster from happening, but you need not worry. Human bodies will swim in blood, but you need not worry. There is an apprehension that bullets may rain and bombs may crash in, but you need not worry. Be sure you will be flattened, but you need not worry.'

An old man of my childhood would sell fear and hope in asingle breath. It was hard to decide which part to believe. Should I die offear that anything can happen or live with hope that nothing will.

What happened this week reminded me of the same fear-hopecombination. When orders regarding some emergency measures were issued by theadministration, silence fell. When doctors' leaves were cancelled what elsewould it smell of except a cloudburst of war which had  reached a tipping point. When camel's back isalready burdened so much, what else does it need to break except a bare straw.Kashmiris are historically reported as grapevine lovers, but here the grapevinemill had no grist in it. Street talk has been our favourite news hub, but herewhat we heard didn't flow from the street, it was a proper information that wasdisseminated by the system itself. They might have done it for public safety,it caused public chaos. When they immediately came out with some message ofhope and warn people not to believe in rumours, I was thrown back to the secondpart of the old man's line – ` but you need not worry'. 

How can an administration tell people not to fear when theythemselves send fear around the valley. Given the fragility of the situation,anything could happen. Optimism had no room to stay in. Pulwama aftermath,Indo-Pak war cries, 35-A, more forces to land – it's trouble upon trouble. Thepanic was already in the air, and when you offer ground to it, you can't blamepeople for their abnormal behavior. If the highway closure was the reason tocaution people, it was worse during the last month. Then people weren't warnedthe way they were warned now. If elections are the reason to get more forces,elections are still far away.

As if the bugle was blown that petrol pumps, provisionstores, groceries got jammed within minutes. If people were told to losecomplacency, they lost sleep. They were asked to store provision for days, theystored it for months. They were warned by inches, they got warned by miles.That happens in a panic-ridden atmosphere like this. Though the government didall they could to undo the effect their previous message had created but thefear didn't go.

A responsible administration has to care about thesensitivities and vulnerabilities of the people. And that is the only possiblelesson we can learn from this experience. It holds good for people and for thegovernment as well. Normally people cause chaos, the government takes control.What when the reverse happens.

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