Updated on 19 Oct 2021, 3:19 pm
Former member of Manipur State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MCPCR) Keisham Pradipkumar on Tuesday said that to uphold justice in society, civil pressure groups must be strengthened in its areas of activities and citizens must be treated as legitimate rights bearers by the state and its agencies.
He was speaking as the moderator at the state-level meeting on Emerging Issues of Human Rights in Manipur which was organised by Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) Manipur at the JN Dance Academy auditorium.
Pradipkumar said that with the unprecedented crisis following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, its effects were felt in all walks of life especially in areas of health, education and livelihood of the people. Due to lack of knowledge and awareness, the poor people are not able to avail their entitled rights, he said. Schemes related to the public targeted distribution system under NFSA and the MGNREGA were not properly implemented. As a result, many poor people were deprived of their basic rights to food and livelihood, he added.
At the end of the meeting, Pradipkumar as a moderator stressed upon positive use of judicial interventions like filing of PILs and writ petitions to the courts in order to bring justice in respect to NFSA, welfare schemes for construction and other workers. Manipur needs a special package to revamp the wrecked economy and health sector because the pandemic affected every circumstance of livelihood, he said.
Concerning distribution of NFSA rice, an individual hailing from Tokpaching of Hiyanglam assembly constituency raised his concern during the meeting that despite the direction issued by Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) to distribute the “missing” rice of the three months to Tokpaching villagers, the authorities are yet to distribute them.
To distribute the missing rice, the MHRC has also extended the time period to the authorities concerned for distributing the rice from October 7 to 29. “The concerned authorities have ignored the directions issued by MHRC,” he added.
Another legal aid clinic volunteer also lamented that he got threatened by workers of politicians for writing complaints to higher authorities for not providing NFSA rice.
Speaking on labour welfare schemes, Advocate Rakesh Meihoubam expressed that the unskilled and low wage workers are one of the most affected groups as working from home and the online jobs were not applicable for them.
The Manipur Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board and Manipur State Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana Society are the agencies of the Labour department in respect of the implementing Welfare Schemes for labourers, he said. The Board extends assistance, pensions, loans premium; financial assistance, medical expenses etc., he added.
In Manipur, enrolment of labour is very less but crores of rupees are sanctioned for labour welfare every year, he said. Many have claimed for labour cards but actual labourers are not getting them, Rakesh stated. He also gave suggestions to apply for labour cards through the E-Shram website to prevent spending money on enrolment.
Associate professor of the department of Economics, MU, Chinglen Meisnam spoke on post-COVID-19 issues related to health, education and livelihood. Chinglen said that post-COVID-19 impact is so wide and large that 67 per cent of households are affected in Manipur by COVID-19. Raising concern that the mental health issues are increasing day-by-day, he stressed that the need for a deep-rooted assessment study in every aspect of livelihood for the state is highly essential before taking up any means to combat the COVID-19 impact, he added.
Speaking on legal intervention on COVID-19 vaccination, Advocate Osbert Khalin said that vaccination is voluntary but the government should not force people for vaccination.
Consultant paediatrician Shija Hospitals and research institute Dr Yaikhomba Taorem spoke on the right to health during the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed confidence that the third wave of COVID-19 will not come.
Human Rights Alert executive director Babloo Loitongbam spoke on judicial intervention on implementation of NFSA. He said that many directions from the High Court of Manipur are not implemented seriously by authorities even though many such directives exist on paper. Many civil voluntary leaders have faced threats for complaining against them, he added.
Advocate Thokchom Premlata Devi spoke on violence against women and the existing gaps in the implementation of protection of women from domestic violence and other legal provisions. She said the pandemic saw the rise in domestic violence against women in the state. Many incidents of physical, emotional, mental and financial abuse were reported, she said. Due to the lockdown, women cannot go out and report the crime committed against them. On account of the lack of knowledge and awareness of their rights, many women are not availing their entitled rights, she added.