TODAY -

Ambivalence came upon by stranded students of Manipur

Rishikanta Thokchom *

 Used to be one of the busiest streets and metro station in Delhi. None have came out of home during this lock down as on April 26th 2020
Used to be one of the busiest streets and metro station in Delhi. None have came out of home during this lock down as on April 26th 2020



'Knock! Knock!' Someone knocked my door on 3rd floor in the scorching noon amidst the lockdown. I jumped out of the bed and opened the door.

"Beta, it's time to pay up your rent." It was the uncle landlord. I said "Please show some respect for corona."

The India's corona curve is showing signs of flattening and has managed to maintain a linear growth of covid-19 cases over the month period during this lockdown. Without the lockdown, India would have had above 1 lakh cases by now.

We are very grateful to those frontline warriors' medical health workers, media persons and the people who had stayed home, washed their hands frequently and maintained social distancing.

I will be very sketchy if I ignore the law enforcing agencies like police although they chased me once swinging their sticks while I was out to buy some vegetables. Regrettably many police also got infected while doing their duties.

Lockdown did strangle the potential chains of community transmission reducing mass geographical spread of the virus, through contagion and flattening the curve compared with what it would have been without the lockdown.

However, the lockdown has hit hard on casual labours such as daily wage earners, depriving of their livelihoods and it also has a disproportionate impact on the poor people.

To them, hunger is now a bigger spectre than the virus. And it is also likely that the problem will not vanish after the lockdown is lifted.

Several students from north-east, who are studying outside their native states such as in Delhi, had returned home before the inception of nation-wide lockdown i.e. from 26th March but several students who have stayed behind are now afflicted during these mysterious period.

Many students are receiving incessant calls from house owners, demanding rents from last months. However, several students not in the position to pay their rents as the lockdown had gripped the livelihood of our parents and the rent keeps amounting by months.

There are also disturbing news about students getting threaten to be thrown out by their landlords for not paying their rents. And this insecurity is rising in our head day by day.

On the other side, we are very pleased by the news of euphoric supports by the governments, NGO's, several clubs, social workers and communities extending help to their fellow people of Manipur who really needs a helping hand.

But in Delhi, we survive on our own with the little help from Manipur government relief fund (www.tenbang.in) which is providing 2 thousands rupees as a financial support to the stranded people of Manipur. However, it is not smooth enough and many of us are not receiving it so far.

There is no community, social workers nor has NGO's to extend help to Northeast like Manipur does especially in the areas where population of Northeast people are less.

Moreover, during this outbreak of the corona virus, it has also revealed the dark side of many Indians, i.e. mistrust, fear, and outright racialism. We don't step outside of our room not just because of the virus but also fear of the prevailing racial discrimination.

I will like to draw the attention of the Manipur government to have a productive talk with Delhi government regarding waiving of rent for a month or two, and also raising questions of racial discrimination to the concern C.M's of the states is the need of the hour.

Furthermore, I believe Manipur government has arranged a rescue task for the stranded students across the country. With all due respect, I request the government to speed up the process like Assam government does. They had already rescued students from Kota, Rajasthan.

It is premature to say that things will return to normal after 3rd May as the number of cases crossed over 23 thousand. The lockdown may extend to third phase but the life of students outside the state is in stake.

We were overwhelmed by the news that many students from the periphery of Manipur who stays in Imphal were supported by the local clubs, despite of their race, caste or communities.

The pandemic has brought humanity and empathy that are inspiring amidst the sad stories of hunger, dead and suffering. Please keep supporting.

"The simplest acts of kindness are far more powerful than thousands heads bowing in prayer." - Gandhi.


* Rishikanta Thokchom wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at rishithokchom5(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 27, 2020.



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