While some of the returnees who violated Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) at the Quarantine Centres have been sent into the jail, some others cannot be penalized as the district authorities are running out of options to punish them as district jail facilities are closed.
Six Quarantinees Sent into Jail
Six quarantinees of SK Women’s College Community Quarantine Centre, Nambol in Bishunupur District have been pulled up by police for flouting the SOPs prescribed by the State Government and health experts and sent to the Quarantine Cell opened at Sajiwa Jail on June 12.
Some returnees at the community quarantine centre, after consuming intoxicating substances, quarrelled with the volunteers and police personnel stationed there at around 10 pm of June 11. The centre has 134 persons including 31 females.
Some quarantinees of the centre exchanged blows with volunteers manning the quarantine centre on the alleged ground that they were not served meals. They also vandalised some properties of the college. One inmate and one volunteer sustained injury during the violent confrontation.
Police have pulled up six quarantinees involved in the confrontation. They have been identified as Philem Suranjoy, 25 of Moirang, Konjengbam Ngamba, 25 of Moirang, Salam Toni, 28 of Moirang, Wahengbam Samson, 23 of Kakyai, Thiyam Indrajit, 30 of Bishnupur Ward No 9 and Shashi Khangenbam, 26 of Kumbi.
After they were produced before the District Magistrate through video conference today, all six of them were taken to the quarantine centre of Sajiwa Central Jail on remand for 15 days.
Nambol AC MLA N Loken accompanied by the Bishnupur SP, other district level officers and representatives of local clubs and Meira Paibi groups made a spot assessment of the quarantine centre today.
The MLA appealed to all the quarantinees not to use intoxicating substances within the quarantine centre or target volunteers. He also asked the Bishnupur SP to register an FIR against all the inmates involved in last night’s confrontation and vandalism.
Flouting SOPs of Quarantine Centres
The quaratinees of Vimala Raina High School Quarantine Centre in Churachandpur district whose close-dancing video clips were viral in the first week of June, had tendered an unconditional apology to the people for their act(s).
In the video clip, one of the inmates said they would like to apologize to the people and the administration for flouting the quarantine norms. ‘We are very sorry and it won’t happen again,’ said the man who spoke on behalf of the returnees at the centre.
Unfortunately, this was not the end of violations of SOPs at quarantine centres of the district. Three people who were trying to supply liquor to the returnees at Hermon English School Quarantine Centres were apprehended by the police in the night of June 8.
In another case, the Churachandpur police registered an FIR under the Disaster Management Act and IPC against four known persons and other unknown persons for violating the SOPs of Quarantine Centres at Pherzawl district’s En Gedi Quarantine Centre, Geljang. They are being charged under the Disaster Management Act for using abusive language against the quarantine in-charge as well as the security, police sources said.
In another incident of violation of SOPs, the quarantinees of the Community Quarantine Centre, Lilong Assembly Constituency of Thoubal district opened at the Islamic Baby English School, Lilong Chaobok Mairenkhun attacked on a volunteer of the centre in the evening of June 11.
Condemning the attack on the volunteer the committee said, “The attack on the volunteer is highly condemnable and uncalled for.” But the committee lauded the State Government for their timely action against the rogue quarantinees.
The committee also requested the parents of the inmates to help their wards strictly follow prescribed protocol at quarantine centres and enable Manipur become a COVID-19 free State.
Quarantinees Protest Lack of Facilities and Control Measures
Fearing after 34 persons out of 103 tested positive for COVID-19 case, the returnees quarantined at the Diligent Public School Quarantine Centre, Moirang in Bishnupur District came out on Tiddim Road and staged a protest demonstration on June 9 by blocking the highway against the lack of basic safety measures and facilities inside the quarantine centre.
Altogether 103 people are staying in the quarantine centre and they have been sharing toilets but the number of toilets is quite inadequate compared to the number of quarantinees.
Since the quarantine centre was opened on May 24, it has been facing a problem of power disconnection, said the quarantinees.
They alleged that proper sanitisation measures are not taken up at the centre, even after 34 quarantinees tested positive for the virus no follow-up safety measures have been taken up.
Subsequently, Bishnupur DC Neeta Arambam, Moirang Municipal Council Chairperson M Romibala, in-charge of the quarantine centre Dr Ksh Umananda and Bishnupur SP Priyadarshini Laishram came and talked with the quarantinees. Later they were shifted to Moirang Multipurpose Higher Secondary School which has better facilities.
Two Returnees Escape Quarantine Centre to Meet Girlfriends, Returned with Liquor & Ganja
In a dramatic incident, two returnees who are quarantined in Tamenglong District Head Quarter escaped from the quarantine centre to meet their girlfriends and then returned after some time on a two-wheeler but with liquor, ganja and cigarettes.
The incident in the hill district of Tamenglong in Manipur came in the public domain only after the District Magistrate Armstrong Pame posted on his Facebook page in the night of June 11. He, however, did not specify the date of the incident.
The duo sold the liquor, cigarettes and ganja to other quarantinees at the quarantine centre. It was only after an official at the quarantine centre caught them distributing the alcohol and cigarettes, the story of their escape-and-return was known.
One of the two boys who excaped nd retured with local hooch and ganja.
Describing them Armstrong Pame wrote, “… Several black sheep emerged among the returnees which frustrates all of us and bring bad names to all the returnees. Here are a few rotten apples in the society at Tamenglong quarantine centre.”
“Two returnees escaped to meet their GFs (girlfriends) and came back having collected their bike from home (and) with 8 litres of locally-made liquor as ordered by some quarantinees, 4 packages of ganja and cigarettes as demanded by one of the quarantinees; caught while being delivered,” Armstrong Pame wrote.
“Several thousands have returned back Home through State Govt. taking several steps … having reached home. We welcomed them, took care of their food, and stay although it might not be such a good standard but we all are doing our best in whatever capacity we can. The villagers donated whatever they could. Several individuals and the Church came forward with help. The volunteers cook for them and stay throughout the night to ensure their safety,” Armstrong Pame wrote on his Facebook Page.
He said the state government had already facilitated the return of several thousands of people. He said the government was doing its best to provide them with food and shelter.
“While your parents and relatives are excited that you are home and eagerly await your completion of Q period, why can’t your desire to consume these intoxicants be controlled?” the District Magistrate asked.
“No one wants to beat them up for fear of human rights violation. Even if we impose fine, you can easily pay it because you will recover by selling your supply at higher rates…” Armstrong Pame wrote.
He also said he and his team were clueless on how to deal with such people and those “local thugs” supporting them.
The District Magistrate further said, “how do we punish them…we are running out of option to punish them as Jails are closed.”
Senior Editor: Imphal Review of Arts and Politics