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Kohima, May 28: The battle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Nagaland is increasingly moving from social distancing to tribal distancing, fight against COVID-19 to tribal fight, and fight against the pandemic to regional grudges.
Tribal and regional interest is gradually overshadowing the common interest to fight against the common enemy, COVID-19. Now circumstances and issues are being looked through the prism of tribalism and regionalism by some responsible organizations and groups. This sad state of affairs has not been cautiously maneuvered by the Government, and it is now under tremendous pressure to fight on two fronts – COVID-19, and tribal and regional interests.
On Thursday protestors in Tuensang town, led by the Confederation of Chang Students’ Union (CCSU), emphatically reflected this when they demanded shifting of the State capital to Tuensang – a regional headquarters for six Naga tribes under the banner of Eastern Nagaland People’s Organization (ENPO). This voice came against the backdrop of the hullaballoo over the Kohima Village Council, and some organizations, asking the Government to evacuate the returnees from outside the State to their respective districts to ease the burden of quarantine centres in Kohima. Unfortunately this turned into tribal politics, which was compounded by ferrying of people to Tuensang from the quarantine centres in Kohima violating the laid down rules on May 25, where four of them have so far been tested COVID-19 positive.
Sensing the ever increasing hot-blooded situation, Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio had deputed his ministers and advisors to all the districts to cool down the temperature.
The irate citizens of Tuensang town, led by students, welcomed the Health & Family Welfare Minister, S. Pangnyu Phom and his officials by organizing a protest rally against the alleged inhuman treatment of returnees on May 25 with placards and banners, some of which read, “Shift the capital to Tuensang. We can shoulder every citizen of Nagaland”, “Don’t appease us with Maria biscuits and a glass of water”, “Why are you killing people of Tuensang. Moi khan bi Naga ase”, and “Allot funds equally. 11 Crore is not equal to 12 lakhs.”
The protestors also demanded suspension of officials involved in the alleged mess for violating all the safety norms and protocol.
Today’s protestors claimed that the returnees were not only haphazardly transported to Tuensang, but they were not fed well – except a small packet of biscuit and a water bottle each; a symbolic gesture. But according to sources, the returnees in five buses were provided foods by Good Samaritans at Tseminyu, Wokha and Mokokchung.
The Government is hesitant to tender apology, by saying it was due to miscommunication that the returnees from Tuensang were ferried before they get the test results of COVID-19. But people of Tuensang feel that they have been discriminated.
In the midst of noisy scene in the town, Pangnyu today held a series of discussions with organizations, agitators and Government officials in Tuensang town. The minister reportedly promised to install BSL-3 Lab and other necessary equipments for Tuensang district hospital.
(Page News Service)