Many lining up to return home
Categorise the stranded folks
Stay put where you are. The sage advice from Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, has obviously failed to cut ice with many, including the Government of Manipur like other State Governments. So even as the State has been clubbed in the Green Zone, meaning no new infection has been reported in the last 30 days, new arrivals from different parts of the country and the mechanisms to be worked out to bring them back will occupy the attention of the Government and quite a large number of people. In the first such instance of the State Government extending its hand to bring back stranded people, a total of 87 people were brought back from Manipur Bhawan of Guwahati. Fortunately all 87 have tested negative for COVID-19 but the State Government cannot rest easy and will now have to work out the modalities of how to ship in the others who have been stranded in different parts of the country. Those stranded include students, those seeking a livelihood in different parts of the country notably the metros, those staying outside due to the nature of their profession, those needing medical treatment and those who went outside the State on other purposes, not related to their profession and one may call them tourists for want of a better descriptive term. And as things stand today some dissenting voices have been raised over the charge of Rs 3000 or so per head for the 87 passengers who were brought in from Guwahati by bus. Most probably the rate or bus fare was fixed by the agency or the owner of the buses concerned, but significant to note that a voice of dissent has been raised. Likewise a number of criticisms have been raised for not lowering the train fare for taking migrant workers to their natal place in other parts of the country with Congress president Sonia Gandhi now stepping in and announcing that the party would meet the train fare of the migrant workers.
The train is yet to come to Manipur and it would be interesting to see if this would mean that the Congress here would bear the travel expense of the stranded people when they come by bus. Thousands of people from Manipur are outside the State and as stated earlier here, they may be broadly categorised as students, professionals, blue collar workers such as salesmen, saleswomen, beauticians, the sick and ailing who are outside the State seeking medical treatment and yes those who are outside as tourists. This is where the Government may work out a system so as to prioritise those who have queued up to return to Manipur. Students and professionals who are posted outside and those who are not in danger of losing their jobs may stay put for the time being. Priority may be given to the sick and ailing people who have been discharged from the hospitals and may need to come back. Thought also ought to be given to those who have lost their jobs and practically have no means to pay their rent and meet their daily requirements. Not an easy job it would be to categorise all those stranded outside Manipur, but for those who have the means to say where they are, the best option would be to stay put. Let others who are in more need to come back home proceed first. It is also important to ensure that there is no politicking in the process to get the stranded people back home. This is a humanitarian crisis and playing politics at this stage would be cruel.