As civil bodies of Senapati district demand suspension of Senapati deputy commissioner (DC) for alleged violation of COVID-19 safety protocols, the team of 36 ‘Mumbai Returnees’, including 13 cancer patients, have jointly issued a clarification on events which took place on May 13 at Mao gate and Senapati.
In regards to the civil bodies of Senapati district demanding suspension of Senapati DC for alleged violation of COVID-19 safety protocols, the team of ‘Mumbai Returnees’ consisting of 36 returnees including 13 cancer patients have jointly issued a clarification on events which took place on May 13 at Mao gate and Senapati.
The joint statement issued by one Nelson Elangbam on behalf of the 36 returnees appealed to the locals and respected civil bodies “to understand the circumstances which led the DC to take the extraordinary decision for the cause of humanity,” Nelson is one of the 36 returnees that came together in a bus, now currently lodged together at R & D wing Lamphel quarantine centre. The returnees urged not to create any chaotic or panic atmosphere based on perceived grounds without fully knowing the actual events and the happenings.
Although the Mumbai returnees understand that the people of Senapati are going through panic after hearing that two of returnees have tested positive, the allegations raised against the district commissioner of Senapati are “wild, baseless and ill-founded,” it said.
“Although we can understand the concern of the civil bodies given the present atmosphere caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic; nonetheless, we take the opportunity to provide an unbiased narration about the event,” it said.
The returnees were a group of 36 members plus three drivers of which 13 were cancer patients who had gone to Mumbai for Chemotherapy and various treatments much before the lockdown and got stranded at Mumbai, it said. With approvals from both the state governments, the returnees booked an ambulance and a bus, and started their long itinerary of four days and four nights starting from May 8, it added.
Some of the patients were with nose-feeding tubes, while some were with glucose drips throughout the journey, it said. “Furthermore, we were medically verified as per the COVID-19 guidelines laid down by the government of India.
After reaching Mao Gate on May 13 at around 6:15 pm, all the necessary verifications were conducted and team was directed to report at IIIT Mantriphukhri for further medical verification and necessary tests, it said.
However, considering the timing the team had to stay at Mao Gate, they enquired from the respective authorities who were on duty there to arrange for parking place for the vehicles and for necessary food and lodging arrangement for the cancer patients, it said.
The statement said, “To our great disappointment and shock, the SDO on duty, under the influence of alcohol, replied using repeated expletives under the pretext of social distancing to the query of one of our members.” The team politely requested him not to use such inappropriate words in public and while on duty, it added.
To this, the SDO pointed to the member and aggressively threatened “who are you?” it said. “The OC and SI on duty also threatened to physically assault us and lodge us behind bar. Nonetheless, with folded hands we requested them to calm down and help us,” it added.
The statement further said, the Mumbai returnees were finally told that they can halt at a distance of about 2 km away up the hill where they have to walk and with the patients.
“It was not possible and we were in a great dilemma. At last, having no alternative, at around 9:30 pm, we contacted the concerned district authority over the phone. After hearing our plight the Deputy Commissioner of Senapati helped us with full co-operation and guided us to come to Senapati,” it stated. On the team’s arrival to Senapati, the DC welcomed them, it added.
The statement continued, they were briefed and instructed by the DC to follow the COVID-19 protocol strictly. The team assured the DC to abide by the instructions and accordingly they strictly followed the same, it said. “As requested by us, the DC arranged our stay and meal for the night. We are truly thankful and indebted to the District authorities for this goodwill gesture. None of us ventured out of the building where we were accommodated at anytime till our departure,” it said.
On the following morning of May 14 at around 6:30 am, the team proceeded to IIIT Imphal for medical verification and necessary tests as directed to them, the statement said. Unfortunately, two of the group members tested COVID-19 positive, it said. Currently, they are undergoing all the necessary treatment at RIMS, Imphal, it added.
“In no circumstances did we violate any of the protocols, throughout the journey. Furthermore, from the inception of the journey, we were extremely cautious given the medically ill-conditions with low immunity of our group members. In this regard, it is also pertinent to mention that the group consisted of people from all communities of Manipur and all of us travelled together under one common identity i.e. as a Manipuri,” it stated.
In fact, it was the DC’s generous act and bold decision which allowed the cancer patients to pass the night peacefully in Senapati, it said. “For the same, we are extremely grateful to him. He should not be victimised for his extremely generous and bold decision coupled with empathic hospitalities,” it said. They are indeed the frontline administrative fighters in these trying times, it added.
“Furthermore, one of our member’s constant social media updates would also serve as evidence to our claim of being law-abiding citizens,” it said.