[ Amar Sangno ]
ITANAGAR, Apr 9: The Arunachal government is reportedly facing immense pressure from families and student organizations to evacuate the students and other people from Arunachal who are stranded in various parts of India.
Unrest has heightened among the stranded people of the state following speculation that the Centre might extend the lockdown period, which is scheduled to end on 14 April, in view of the surge in Covid-19 positive cases in many states.
“Our main concern is whether the government can evacuate us from this place to our home. That would be very helpful,” said Tamoya Tayu, a third-year BA (history) student at Bishop Heber College in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu.
Highly placed government sources informed that as of now the state government does not have any plan to evacuate the stranded people as it would be a massive exercise involving physical and financial resources. Besides, evacuating them from Covid-19 hotspots might put the entire state at high risk.
“As of now, there is no such plan. However, we will see after 11 April, after the national strategy is developed,” said an officer who wished not to be named.
Harrowing reports of racial discrimination in different parts of India, targeting people with Mongoloid features, including those from the Northeast, have surfaced. Shops and stores are reportedly denying entry to people with Mongoloid features and calling them ‘coronavirus’.
“People out here call us ‘corona’, and the people in our place say corona lekar mat aao (don’t bring corona). Where are we supposed to go now? Do our lives not matter?” said Tayu.
“We are ready to follow the quarantine rules. All of the students want to go back home as soon as possible as the number of affected people is rapidly growing here,” she said, and appealed to the state government to do something for them.
Tayu along with 16 other Arunachalee students are stranded in Tiruchirapalli. Reportedly, the state government is facilitating provision of rations to the students through the Tamil Nadu government.
The All India Arunachal Students Union’s Federation (AIASUF) – the coordination body for Arunachalee students’ unions outside the state – in a representation to the state government demanded evacuation of the stranded students and other people before the situation worsens.
According to AIASUF president Likha Akash, Delhi NCR, Dehradun, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have the highest numbers of stranded students.
The federation demanded setting up quarantine camps for the returnees at the check gates, besides providing rations and other essential commodities, and early release of the students’ stipends.
Meanwhile, the Arunachal Indigenous Tribes Forum (AITF) has suggested to the government to encourage the stranded people “to be at is where is basis” and provide logistic and financial support to them.
The AITF also suggested that sealing of international borders and interstate boundaries should continue and non-Arunachalees not serving or residing in Arunachal should not be allowed to enter the state.
The forum suggested that a nodal officer be appointed to liaise with the deputy resident commissioners to address cases of racial discrimination in various parts of the country, as also in the capital region, so that there is no discrimination in providing essential commodities to non-Arunachalees in the sectors and colonies.
Official sources informed that so far nearly 6300 people – a majority of them in Delhi, Punjab and Dehradun – have registered themselves on the online portal launched by the state government to identify the stranded people.
It is reported that the government is trying in every possible way to coordinate with the other states to ensure that the stranded people get adequate rations.
“We are providing rations to every stranded student through the respective state machinery, and we are grateful to every state government for helping out,” a government officer said.
Reportedly, scores of students in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, who wanted to book a flight after 15 April had to pull out in view of the uncertainty over the ending of the lockdown.
[ Amar Sangno ]