Yes to opening shops, but total curfew : Confusing the people
It is confusing. What adds to the confusion was the late, very late (particularly for newspapers which have to meet a deadline) issuance of the guidelines of the State Government on May 18, long after States like Karnataka and Delhi had issued their own dos and don’ts for the 4.0 Nationwide lockdown which came into force on May 18. Total curfew in Imphal city and all district headquarters and in other areas curfew from 6 pm to 6 am till May 31. With the number of infected increasing, with two more having tested positive on May 19, the spirit behind the decision to discourage the movement of people and hence the imposition of curfew in Imphal city till May 31 is understandable. But go through the list of things which are allowed and which have been prohibited and the confusion grows. So even as the State Government announced or imposed total curfew in Imphal city, it still says that certain things are allowed. In the list of things allowed and which would be of immense importance to any family is the announcement that locality (leikai) based shops dealing with essential commodities like groceries for daily use, vegetables, fruits, poultry meat and fish will be opened from 6 am to 2 pm. Or does this mean only the shops which are not located in Imphal and the district headquarters ? Confusion here, for this all important point has been given a comfortable miss in the notification issued by the State Government. Wholesale markets shall be opened on all days except Sundays from 6 am to 2 pm for sale to retail shops, as per permits issued by the Deputy Commissioner. This is fine but what happens to the total curfew imposed in Imphal city ? Or does the Government mean only Thangal Keithel and Paona Keithel by the understanding of Imphal city ? A clarification on this count is highly needed.
The focus here is on shops selling daily needs of the people for this is what has added most to the confusion, for daily needs is what the people are worried about. The notification from the Government also talked about distribution of LPG via home delivery, but again what about the curfew ? This question is all that more significant in the face of the Government’s decision to do away with all the permit passes which were issued earlier. Creating confusion amongst the people is what will make the lockdown all that more ineffective. A strict lockdown, coupled with the curfew and all the restrictions is acceptable and people ought to follow it, but when the very notification issued by the Government raises more question than clear doubts, then a rethink is what is urgently needed. The COVID-19 count is increasing with the country having already crossed the one lakh mark and Manipur too registering two more positive cases on May 19 and at such a critical juncture, what is least needed is confusion. Remember contradictory notifications/orders from the Government can only make things more complicated and render all the precautionary measures redundant. This is also the opportune moment for the Government to acknowledge that the earlier proposal of sending all returnees for home quarantine would have been the ideal situation for community transmission to start. Remember the five new cases were all detected while they were in quarantine centres and one can only imagine the situation if they had been sent straight for home quarantine. Herein lies the importance of listening to all suggestions put forth by concerned citizens of the land.