Opening the doors amid the lockdown
Dicey situation for all
It is a sort of a paradox. On the one hand there is the State Government which has been urging the people to maintain social/physical distancing, restricting movements and inter-mingling of people best exemplified by the decision to close Khwairamband Keithel for the time being and on the other hand throwing open the doors for people of Manipur, who otherwise have been staying at different parts of the country, to return and even sponsoring part of their journey. Apart from the initiatives taken up by the State Government, respective MLAs have also taken it upon themselves to bring back natives of the State from different parts, most notably from Guwahati and the shipment of people from other parts of the country to Manipur will continue. In line with the decision to bring back people of Manipur to their home State following the Nationwide lockdown, the State Government has understandably decided that all those returning by trains will have to undergo institutional quarantine first. The effort is noted and one hopes that the efforts of the State Government is reciprocated by the citizens of the land. However it would have helped if the State Government had taken the trouble of categorising which set of people should be given preference to return home. For instance, a call could have been issued advising those who are studying outside that it is in the best interest of everyone if they stay put where they are at the moment, whether they stay in the hostel or on rent or as paying guests. For those posted outside due to the nature of their work, again it is natural to ask them to stay put at their place of posting.
Not all would fall into the category mentioned above here. Some could have lost their job, some may have not been paid for months, some may have gone out for treatment. It is these category of people the Government must give the first preference. They can and should be shipped back, for this is perhaps the best time to demonstrate that there is a Government which cares for them. And there are many who may fall into the category of those who may be faced with the unenviable prospect of being told that they are no longer be needed at their work place. There must be many from Manipur who work as sales girls and sales boys, in spas and beauty parlours, as security guards, in different hotels and restaurants as waiters, cooks and even as managers. There are others working in the health sector such as nurses, both male and female and in the management sections of any health sector, who today may be facing the bleak prospect of losing their jobs. The first priority of the Government should go to such people as well as those who had to go outside the State for medical treatment. For others, such as students and professionals who may not face the prospect of losing their job, they may be asked to stay put where they are. Remember whether one is travelling by train or bus, one would have to pass through several places, including those areas which have been tagged as Red Zones or Orange Zones and many more could be coming from such Zones and not just passing through them. The situation is dicey and all the more reason for people to be on their toes and observe the advisories issued by the Government.