Kohima: Through a letter addressed to Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio on Thursday, Nagas living in the cities under the umbrella of the All Cities COVID-19 Task Force for Nagaland appealed the state government to maintain transparency. “We want concrete decision and plan in regard to the special train arrangement,” the members wrote.
It informed that on May 12, the presidents of the various Naga students’ bodies outside the state held a video conference and resolved to form the All Cities COVID-19 Task Force for Nagaland. It said that there is a “lack of coordination and communication” between the government appointed POC and the student leaders/ church leaders who are working on the frontline for the stranded people.
Appealing the state government to arrange “special train” at the earliest, it urged the government to confirm the date of boarding, place of boarding and the necessary formalities required to avail of the special train.
The letter suggested that the state government must consult various Naga students’ unions on the government policy that is in regard to the Nagas stranded outside, before implementing it, as the student leaders are “accountable to answer all queries and concerns in their respective states”.
It appealed the government to review the helpline numbers as the numbers provided “are not responding”. It also questioned the preparedness of the quarantine centres and isolation centres. The student representatives also appealed the government to prioritise the CM Special Financial Package as many of its members are yet to receive it.
Re-work criteria for one-time assistance of Rs 10,000:
The COVID-19 task force appealed the government to re-work the criteria of the one-time assistance of Rs 10,000 as it is “discriminatory against many like-minded stranded Nagas who have genuinely decided to stay back, though with lots of hardship considering the sensitivity of the situation”. The criteria should be re-worked, and lenience should be given to all Nagas outside Nagaland to avail of this one-time benefit, including stranded Nagas within Northeast, it said.
Evacuate stranded vulnerable Nagas:
Assuring that the representatives are trying its best to “educate everyone about the safety to stay where we are”. It said that many of those who are coming back, are genuinely affected as majority are from unorganised sectors and have either lost their jobs or are not receiving any salary due to the pandemic.
“They are vulnerable group of people and are going to face more hardship as their business or companies are unlikely to start very soon,” the letter said. According to them, there are also large groups of students who are “vulnerable”as most of the hostels and paying guest houses have been closed due to the nationwide lockdown.
“There are also large groups of stranded medical patients and unwell Nagas who need immediate evacuation to their home in Nagaland,” it added. It urged the government not to resort to “delay tactics” in evacuating the vulnerable stranded Nagas. Highlighting how Nagas are “prone to racial discrimination”, it said that there is still no “strong voice” against it by the government and the NGOs who “are requesting us to stay back”. It added saying: “Please evacuate stranded vulnerable Nagas without further delay.”
It urged for the evacuation of the stranded people to be done via the nearest train station and that those stranded people in places without access to such train stations be transported to the nearest one and sent home by “special trains”.
Stigmatising stranded people who plan to return:
“It has been also noticed on social media how our people are already stigmatizing stranded people planning to come home. A fear psychosis has already been created. How will the state government respond to this in order to tackle the wrong information being circulated and harassment made on wrong speculations? Please review and take strict action against those individuals who are spreading this wrong speculation which is buzzing around Nagaland with all wrong reasons,” a section of the letter said.
Adding that the student bodies are going beyond the call of duty, it said that the student bodies have stepped in to shoulder responsibilities of the works which are “supposed to be rendered by the govt and its agencies”, it appealed the government to acknowledge the grievances of the people.
“We sincerely appeal to all the civil societies, NGOs, political parties/organisations to play an important role and be rational instead of confusing and creating panic in people’s minds. We should all co-operate and work together to curb this deadly virus/epidemic. Spare the politics and differences for later as it is a time to work together,” it said.
“Sir, we all are trying our best to educate people, rendering help physically to people in need despite the risk surrounding us. However, we are all helpless in this situation as the state government has not yet responded to us with the concrete plans to take our people back home. We want your immediate intervention and advice on the above points,” it added.
It said that if the government fails to respond to its queries, they will be left with “no option but to stop assisting the government” and the government should send their nodal officers and staff to all the cities and take up the overdue responsibilities of caring of the stranded people dealing with racial discrimination, dead cases, hospital cases, rental issues, and many other issues.