Epidemic threat at relief centres Refugees in own land !

No one, least of all the Government at Imphal, seems to know when things will take a turn for the better, but what is clear and frighteningly so is the report that there could be an outbreak of epidemics at the relief camps. Over 60,000 people are presently living or holed up in the different relief centres set up across the State. And they have been living like this for over four months or 120 days. Surviving in this state, would perhaps be a better term to refer to the condition under which the ‘refugees in their own land’ have been living for over 120 days. At the moment, no one has talked about the ‘state of existence’ of the folks whose houses have either been razed to the ground or gone up in flames in the madness that erupted from the evening of May 3. No one also knows when and more importantly if they can go back to the place they once called home. Sketchy reports along with very clear pictures coming in from Churachandpur say in no uncertain terms that some Meitei localities have literally been razed to the ground and the ground levelled. Today the places where Meitei houses once stood look like football fields, flattened systematically with a roller to make the ground even ! This is where questions ought to be raised on why reporters/correspondents or the pen pushers from media houses located in other parts of the country, and who were not stopped from entering Churachandpur, have not carried any clear report on the Meitei localities being razed to the ground there. Or did their briefs not include the destruction and mayhem caused to the Meitei localities at Churachandpur ? Remember the violence started at Churachandpur after the Tribal Solidarity March of May 3 and any understanding of the ongoing clash between the Meiteis and the Kukis should start from Churachandpur and get a better understanding on how and why it soon spread to only the Kuki dominated places, such as Kangpokpi and Moreh. A look at the genesis of the clash will then explain why majority or almost all the inmates at the relief centres at Imphal and the districts in the valley area are from the places mentioned above. The Government did go about handing over some pre-fabricated houses set up for the displaced persons at Sajiwa some time back, but this does not answer anything on the state of existence of the displaced persons. Now with some doctors having sounded the warning that epidemics may break out at the relief centres any time, the focus of the Government should be on the internally displaced persons.
Is the Manipur Government well placed to tackle any epidemic if and when it breaks out at any of the relief camps ? What preventive steps have been taken up, especially in the backdrop of the Dengue alert sounded by the Health Department on September 5 ? The tasks before the Government is difficult, no doubt, but it would compound the human tragedy if people living in the relief centres are ‘allowed’ to fall sick in droves that it can go on to become some sort of an epidemic. This is the time to take up preventive measures. Is the Government able to provide piped, potable water to the inmates ? Are the relief centres being maintained properly that it does not become breeding grounds for any infectious diseases ? Have the different arms of the Government been activated to deal with any health emergency at the relief centres ? Of the 60,000 or so persons displaced, how many are taking shelter at the relief centres at Imphal and the valley districts as well as at Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Moreh ? This is about the less privileged section who have to cope with surviving at the relief centres while the better off have taken flight to places such as Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune and nearer home to Shillong, Guwahati and even Mizoram. Perhaps a more minute study of the inmates at the different relief centres can go a significant way in rubbishing the victim story that has been sold and lapped up by the media with so much aplomb across the country. The task at hand is certainly not easy and clinging on to slogans such as ‘Peace later, solution first’ can only prolong the crisis. The Government must take note of the dangerously mischievous note in such a slogan.