Other States

COVID-19: Nagaland panel to probe row over biscuits

Netizens mock government with ‘State snack’ jibe after allegedly packing off quarantined people of other districts from Kohima

A row over thin arrowroot biscuits served to a group of quarantined people along with a COVID-19 positive person allegedly ejected from a quarantine centre in State capital Kohima has made the Nagaland government form a probe panel.

In a notification on May 30, the office of Nagaland’s Chief Secretary Temjen Toy said a three-member judicial inquiry committee has been formed “to inquire into the matter regarding transportation of stranded returnees to Tuensang”.

The panel, headed by retired judge L.N. Sema, was formed following a representation from the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) seeking action against government officials involved in “deliberate violation of standard operating procedure” related to COVID-19.

Phom, Chang, Khiammiungan and other Naga tribes had protested after 169 people were on May 26 packed off in five buses from Kohima to Tuensang, about 230 km away. Tuensang is the headquarters of Tuensang district bordering Myanmar.

These 169 had spent less than three days in one of the two quarantine centres but were sent away allegedly under pressure from Kohima social groups who wanted returnees from other districts to be sent directly to their homes.

Tuensang residents took to the streets on May 28 after one of the passengers, whose swab samples were taken in Kohima, tested positive after reaching his destination. The ENPO also took note of the “step-motherly treatment” of Tuensang district’s returnees who were given “only a few packets of (thin arrowroot) biscuits” and bottled water.

The Neiphiu Rio government in Nagaland, where the Bharatiya Janata Party is the minor partner, denied buckling under pressure from certain organisations of the Angami, the dominant tribe of Kohima. A government spokesperson also said the Tuensang people were taken care of to “the best of our ability”.

That did not stop Nagas, known for their wit even under the most trying of circumstances, from satirising the controversy over biscuits. Many took to social media calling thin arrowroot biscuit the “State snack” and morphing the photos of some political leaders on such biscuits that “break when dipped in a cup of tea”.

By noon on May 31, Nagaland had 43 COVID-19 positive cases – all returnees from northern, western and southern India.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 7:42:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/covid-19-nagaland-panel-to-probe-row-over-biscuits/article31715412.ece

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