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SHILLONG: As the threat of community spread of COVID-19 has begun to loom large, particularly after an influential group of residents travelled to Guwahati last month for attending a wedding, the discerning citizens have begun to raise some uncomfortable questions over suspected official laxity.
Seriously perturbed by the alarming surge in COVID positive cases since the marriage party returned, the general inference in town is that the granting of transit permission by the administration was a major error of judgment, considering that Guwahati had emerged as the biggest hotspot for infection in the entire North East.
According to the official version, the marriage party had violated the conditions of the transit passes, as has been confirmed by the magisterial enquiry, prompting the government to direct the DC East Khasi Hills to file FIR against all 41. Some angry citizens, who declined to be named, commented that “it (FIR) is like bolting the stable after the horse has fled”.
The citizens, who are livid that such an indiscretion had put their health at risk, wondered how against the five passes issued, as large as 41-member group was allowed to travel without let or hindrance, when only 15 persons were entitled to attend the wedding.
They also questioned as to whether it was not the duty of the police personnel deployed at Byrnihat check gate to verify whether the transit pass conditions were violated or not. Besides, if the passes were meant for “one-way” travel only as has been officially confirmed, how did the marriage group manage to return the same evening?
Not just that, there are credible reports that suggest that while returning to Shillong, the group was not subjected to the mandatory tests. This, according knowledgeable circles, was a major lapse on the part of those manning the Byrnihat camp.
The matter would have remained buried but for the accidental discovery that the cook of the private resort where the marriage took place had tested positive. As the search for contacts began, the enormity of the issue came to the fore.
The public suspicion of official laxity at various levels was palpable. The fact that Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong declined to share the inquiry report with the media, appears to have fuelled speculations of an attempt to shield the concerned officials. Opposition MLA PT Sawkmie has already given vent to the public ire and demanded of the government to make public the enquiry report. It remains to be seen, how the government douses the simmering fire of discontent created by glaring official lapses.
What is worse is that some members of the immediate family of the marriage party had been tested positive and have become high risk contacts, while others have become primary contacts.
DC East Khasi Hills, M War had herself come in contact with such a primary contact and had been tested but found negative. She will remain under quarantine until the results test negative.
Every day one or other person who has come in contact with members of the marriage party are testing positive. So much so, there is a clamour even from some Rangbah Shnong that the names of those testing positive be made public in the same manner that Amitabh Bachchan had done.