‘We forgive, but that does not mean we shall forget’
DIMAPUR, JULY 10: All is not well on the Eastern front but for now those responsible for the infamous Tuensang returnees fiasco have been forgiven unconditionally by the Eastern Nagaland People’ Organization (ENPO). The ENPO’s decision to forgive – after repeated appeals and a public apology by the state government – was reached at after consultation with the apex bodies of the six Eastern Nagaland tribes and frontal organizations. And it comes with a rider – “We forgive, but that does not mean we shall forget.”
Considering the circumstances, and subsequent to the public apology tendered by the State Government, the ENPO in the spirit of Christianity and on grounds of humanity “forgives the erring officers and lapses on the part of the medical department,” ENPO president Kekongchim categorically stated while addressing the media here at Sovima on Friday. “But it does not mean ENPO will forget the incident of that fateful day,” he asserted.
“I have a message for the Government of Nagaland. I forewarn that do not expect the same cases of forgiveness in near future because things will be different in the future (sic),” Kekongchim asserted.
According to a press statement handed to the media by the ENPO executives, by the State Cabinet’s own admission there was lack of proper coordination and intimation with respective districts in the transportation of the returnees to Tuensang. Moreover the State Cabinet has also admitted that there were some “avoidable” communication gap between Kohima and Tuensang districts which led to the overall confusion primarily on account of absence of detailed guidelines and standard operating procedures regarding inter-district movement of returnees and lack of clarity on the roles of those involved in quarantine management. This proves there were inherent defects in the system and procedures of Covid-19 management in the state, the ENPO stated.
The State Government, according to the press statement, has also admitted that as per the finding of the Joint Investigation Committee it would not be proportionate to impose heavy penalty on the erring officers.
When asked if the ENPO has been provided with the report of the JIC, Kekongchim replied, “We have not got a copy of the JIC report.”
‘Arrangements not satisfactory’
Setting up of the BSL-2 lab in Tuensang district headquarter is in the process, but the arrangements to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in the districts of Eastern Nagaland are not satisfactory, the ENPO president said. According to him there is lack of adequate manpower and adequate money towards tackling the pandemic.
“We were not satisfied at all by the arrangements put in place after visiting all the district headquarters,” he stated while adding that some demands put forth by the ENPO, through a representation to the state government, have been met and some have not been met.
Regarding Health minister Pangyu Phom’s claim on June 3 that the State Government had already planned to set up a BSL-2 lab in Tuensang prior to the May 26 incident and that the decision was not related to the fiasco, Kekongchim informed that there was no such talk before the incident.
“A written application was given before the (May 26) incident, but there was no positive response from the government regarding installation of the lab. But surprisingly after the incident the Government came up promptly with the idea to install the lab in Tuensang,” he stated adding that no such assurance was given before the incident.
Discriminated since Statehood
While dwelling on the May 26 returnees fiasco and its aftermath, the ENPO voiced distress that since the inception of statehood and till date, the people of Eastern Nagaland have to get their rights through confrontation. “Even if it is our right, we do not get our share.”
Underscoring the step-motherly treatment of Eastern Nagaland by the state government, the ENPO president said that if the erring officials involved in the Tuensang incident happened to be from the ENPO area, “I can guarantee that the government of Nagaland would have initiated action or suspended the officials within 24 hours.”
While refusing to take names, he claimed that “there were instances where some few erring officials (from Eastern Nagaland) made mistakes knowingly or unknowingly, but who have not been forgiven till date.”
“The reason behind why we have been discriminated again and again is ENPO people tend to forgive and forget,” the ENPO president said.
He categorically stated that the Nagaland government should ensure that this gesture of forgiveness marks the beginning of the end of discrimination against the people of Eastern Nagaland. He further asserted that the state should not expect such gestures in future as for the people of Eastern Nagaland this issue marks the end of forgiving on such issues.
ENPO not for sale
Responding to allegations that the ENPO has sold itself to the state government, the ENPO asserted, “ENPO is not for sale.”
“Many people are commenting that ENPO and the tribes (of Eastern Nagaland) have sold out. I accept we are economically poor, but the people of ENPO are rich in heart which cannot be bought with money,” he said.
The people of ENPO are forgiving not because we are weak, but because we are brave and do not live in fear of our enemies, Kekongchim said adding, “If we are to continue fighting among ourselves without a sense of forgiveness, how do you expect humanity to exist in this universe?”
(Page News Service)