Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Apprehensions on State Government’s plan to bring in stranded citizens

I am forced to issue this statement at my own personal level against the irresponsible and immature decision of the Nagaland State Government in facilitating and encouraging the return of stranded citizens from outside Nagaland. My statement is bereft of any personal benefit or political misgivings and as such I call upon every right thinking citizen to go through it and voice out their concerns for the utmost well-being of every single citizen of our State.
At this crucial juncture when everyone is taking every precautionary measure to avert a chaotic situation arising out of mismanagement of the COVID-19 situation, the State Government’s myopic decision to bring in the stranded citizens of Nagaland in such a hurried manner is highly ludicrous. It is beyond any iota of doubt that there has been no proper planning and handling of the situation. In other words, the State Government has yet again fallen short of reaching the people’s expectations and has sidelined the health and well-being of a majority of its citizens. Through this particular step, the government is putting the lives of thousands of people in jeopardy. While there is no second opinion to the fact that we all have we-feeling for our brothers and sisters stranded outside and thus we sympathize with them. However, these are extraordinary times and sometimes during such situations, we have to use both our head and heart and not get carried away by whims and emotions.
In the above context, I would like to cite the example of Assam where thousands of its stranded people were brought in from across the country in hordes and the resultant effect of it is that now Assam has become a hotbed of COVID-19 and there is no respite from it. There are several other such examples including Bihar and Tripura where COVID-19 cases have increased manifold only after the stranded citizens were brought back to their home states. These examples should make our State Government think twice on whether it is taking a right decision or not. We are not against any policies or decisions that the government takes for the general welfare of its citizens provided we had a state-of-the-art medical facilities. However, such decisions should not be for cheap political mileage or for ulterior motives. At present, as we all know, Nagaland does not have enough medical infrastructures to contain such a deadly contagion and God forbid, if there is a sudden fall out of the pandemic after the stranded citizens are brought back, we can very well imagine the proportion of risk that we would be exposed to. Dimapur, the commercial capital of Nagaland has more reasons to worry because, as per the government’s plans, almost all of the returnees, mostly students, would be kept in quarantine facilities in Dimapur itself before they are allowed to proceed to their respective districts. Has the government pondered deeply on what unwarranted situation its unmindful decision would create for the Dimapurians who are already tensed due to the fears of not only the virus but also the constant rise of prices of commodities?
Just imagine the propensity of the risks that we are all involved in. The corona virus has not yet been fully isolated and there are no concrete evidences about its varied manifestations in the human body apart from some of the symptoms which WHO has identified to be the accurate symptoms of COVID-19. There are certain cases where even asymptomatic people were found positive of the virus. This is in itself alarming! Here, I am not being pessimistic but these, as I said earlier, are not ordinary times and one is forced to be skeptic in such a situation. In a worst case scenario, if even one person is detected positive without manifesting any symptoms of the disease, as it has already happened in the case of asymptomatic people, the place where they will be quarantined will become a mass containment area and the people who are residing in and around the quarantine facilities will have to bear the brunt of the gross negligence of the State Government. Also since they will be travelling thousands of kilometers on their journey back home, they will also be putting many other co-passengers and other people to undue risks. This attempt on the part of the government to appease a few citizens will be a gross suicidal attempt. Instead the State Government should have been far-sighted and calculative and should not have undertaken such a risky affair. Rather, it should have taken into consideration the health and lives of thousands of people who are already living amidst fear and uncertainties. It should have made enough funds available for the stranded citizens to sustain themselves for another month or two. Moreover, there is no doubt that health care facilities in other states of India are much more superior and sophisticated than ours. Thus, the stranded people outside will stand a much better chance of recovery even if they are diagnosed positive of COVID-19.
As for those citizens of Nagaland who are stranded outside, I would like to take the example of the brave girl from Sikkim who is also stranded in one of the mainland cities. She has, on her own, taken to the social media to educate the stranded people like her to practice restraint and not put the people back home at risk. The girl in the video very categorically says that “the decision to come back home is a matter of choice and not necessity to maintain a COVID-19 free status and that our plans to make a return journey not only puts our health at risk but also risks the health of our loved ones back at home. Let us make choices that can aid and secure the public welfare of Sikkim all together. With the rise of asymptomatic cases, we need to be more aware and more careful of the choices that we make. Let us stay put wherever we are and let us do our bit to contribute in keeping Sikkim COVID free!” Though the girl was speaking in the context of Sikkim but is it not apt in the context of Nagaland too? Even our State, till date, has been COVID-free, thanks to the efforts of our frontline workers. Why then should we take this undue risk and undo all the efforts of our frontline workers who have been spending sleepless nights till now, without much facilities, to maintain the COVID-free status? Why can’t we all make a humanitarian and unselfish choice?
Finally, as a word of caution for our State Government, I would like to cite these strong and meaningful lines by Wanda Elizabeth “Beth” Moore, an American evangelist, author, and Bible teacher, “Let us all wise up. Some of us aren’t fighting the fire; we’re playing with fire. We’re flirting with the Devil. Stop it! Stop it now before all hell literally breaks loose!”
Dr. Andrew Ahoto Sema

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