We demand transparency from Govt

Editor,
Your column titled “We all make mistakes: It helps to accept this fact” (ST July 31, 2020) seems to suggest the “Let’s kiss and forget all our mistakes and lapses,” dictum. We can only be forgiving if the error is not grievous. But I am not too sure all mistakes should be condoned and forgotten.The messy handling of the marriage ceremony at Khanapara is one such case that neither deserves to be forgotten nor should the matter be buried under the carpet. From all accounts available, those ruling the roost today in Meghalaya, by their ostrich-like behaviour, have added much to the public trepidations over the spread of the Covid-19 virus. By refusing to make the magisterial enquiry report public, our Deputy Chief Minister has not covered himself with glory. According to press reports, he shot back when a reporter wanted to have details of the findings. “Do you think government will share everything with public?” he was quoted as saying. Can a minister withhold information relating to urgent public matters?

My simple question to the Deputy CM is: Has the government turned into a private entity? How can anybody decline to share such vital information with the people in whose name basically the government runs? During the next Assembly session, if any MLA desires a copy of the enquiry report, can the government withhold the document? Everybody can see through the brazen attempt of the minister to hide a glaring official lapse which has led to the spread of Coronavirus infection in the state. By keeping it under wraps, the government has merely shielded those responsible for breaking the otherwise rigidly implemented SOPs.
The people of Meghalaya have the right to know the details of the case. Why was the transit pass granted? How may passes were issued? How many persons were entitled to cross the border? Was there any condition laid down for their return? Were they screened? Were the vehicles used sanitised? Was there any dereliction of duty at Byrnihat check gate? Did the police on duty at Byrnihat check the transit pass and take a head count? I am sure the government has its own reasons for keeping all the above under wraps. Had this happened in any other state, many heads would have rolled by now.
But what’s baffling is the strange silence of the Opposition MLAs. Why are they silent? If Assembly Committee on Empowerment of Women can take up the lapse of Ganesh Das Hospital so promptly and another MLA has taken it up with the Human Rights Commission, why they did not rake up this case? Don’t they have any sense that this controversial marriage brought the virus to Shillong? Don’t they know that people are scared for their lives? Can’t they see that Government imposed more lockdowns and other restrictions which have severely affected the poor farmers and the daily wage earners?
I think in this regard both the Ruling and Opposition are equally guilty of not discharging their duties in keeping the public lives safe. What a pity!

Yours etc.,

BR Nongkynrih,

Shillong-8

NEHU VC’s action unfair

Editor,

The Department of English, NEHU, Shillong is one of the oldest departments in the University and has had a lasting academic as well as social impact since its inception. It has had and continues to have illustrious teachers which comprise of North East poets who are world-renowned, Padmashree awardees, Cambridge and Fulbright scholars. The department has also produced alumni who have gone on to have a deep impact on our society. The Department has always maintained very high standards throughout the years, hence it is truly shocking to have that history tarnished by the arbitrary removal of Prof. Mala Renganathan as head of the Department. Her removal tarnishes the reputation of not only of Prof. Renganathan but also of the Department as a whole.

We, the Research Scholars (Alumni) of Prof. Mala Renganathan, Department of English express our deepest hurt and pain over the unethical and irrational manner of her removal as the head of the Department. This complete disregard for a teacher who has given 17 years of service to the students and University and one who served a total of 26 years as a dedicated teacher in two central universities was uncalled for. That over a reason so trivial and unreasonable! The action of the Vice Chancellor, NEHU is highly condemnable. The credibility, proficiency and efficiency of Prof. Renganathan has been simply disregarded by the University authorities. During our years in NEHU as Research Scholars of Prof. Renganathan, we have never ever once doubted her knowledge, her able guidance and her decades of experience. She had not only supervised our PhD thesis but was also a mother to her scholars. She moulded our lives not only academically but professionally as well. Most importantly, Prof. Renganathan had taught us values and principles that are closely embedded in our hearts and lives.

We therefore condemn the high-handedness of the Vice Chancellor and demand that Prof. Renganathan be reinstated as the Head of the Department of English at the earliest.

 Yours etc.,

Janet Dkhar, Bondina Elangbam, Evangeline L. Marbaniang,

Jenniefer Dkhar, Longcha Naro. Rita D. Nameirakpam, & others

Research Scholars (Alumni)

Department of English

NEHU

Paranoid about quarantine

Editor,

It is human to shun “discomfort.” Presently people fear the discomfort of “quarantine.” Amid the rise in Covid cases many people want to “voluntarily” come forward for testing, particularly when they feel they have mingled with unknown crowds. But they hesitate to do so for many reasons, foremost being that the medical authorities might issue them a chit and they might be asked to go for institutional quarantine even if their tests come out negative. Should a simple cold and cough be categorized as Covid -19, making quarantine mandatory as is reported? Such measures have “discouraged” people from putting up a fight against the virus.

Quarantine involves a lot of hassles, incidental expenditures and sacrifice. This is unsettling for the weaker sections of society. Moreover, why must one compulsorily remain in quarantine if he/she is tested negative?  Who will feed the children when the father is thrust into the quarantine coop?  One feels this is a case of “overdoing”.

However, it is generally agreed that we should not protest the “instant order” for isolation even if a Covid -positive patient turns negative in a few days. In that case, he/she must completely follow all Covid protocols with utmost care. We still have a long way to go before we can bring Covid to its knees. So, why does the Government not try to win the “confidence” of citizens from all walks of life? Each individual, regardless of stature, caste and creed is a potential carrier of the virus. So, the Government should be able to enlist the support of all without sounding alarm bells.

The best way forward would be if the authorities encourage people who are suspected of being infected with Covid-19 to self-declare their status. Here I agree with the suggestion of the KHNAM MLA Adelbert Nongrum to award those who openly declare that they have tested Covid-positive. (ST July 29, 2020).

While medical ethics demand that Covid status of patients be kept confidential due to fear of stigmatization, those that test negative must be allowed to carry on with their jobs.  Let them also be awarded certificates because their coming out for voluntary testing itself matters a lot and serves a greater purpose.

Yours etc.,

Salil Gewali,

Shillong -2

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