Civil society organisations and political parties on Thursday slammed the Neiphiu Rio government in Nagaland for violating its own COVID-19 protocols by allegedly sending a positive patient along with 168 others from a quarantine centre in State capital Kohima without waiting for the test results. They were allegedly made to vacate the centre three days after being lodged.

The group was sent in five buses to Tuensang, about 230 km northeast of Kohima, on Tuesday afternoon. It is the headquarters of Tuensang district bordering Myanmar.

Irate residents of Tuensang town on Thursday protested the visit of Nagaland’s Health Minister Pangnyu Phom for the “deportation” of returnees belonging to the district from Kohima. Members of Confederation of Chang (tribe) Students’ Union also met the Minister and gave him packets of arrowroot biscuits and bottled water, which the 169 were provided with after they were allegedly made to vacate a quarantine centre in Kohima three days after being lodged.

What angered the residents the most was that the Kohima authorities sent the 169 away without quarantining them for the mandatory 14 days and waiting for their swab test results to come. They had reached their destination when results showed one of them had tested positive.

‘Criminal negligence’

The State unit of the Congress said flouting its own institutional quarantine rule was “criminal negligence” on the part of the Rio government, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party is the minor partner.

“The government’s eagerness to be held hostage by the diktats of some civil society organisations and local bodies has sliced opened the wounds of discrimination and imbalanced share of development that is visible all over the State,” the Congress said in a statement, asking Governor R.N. Ravi to step in and “salvage the situation by dismissing the incompetent government”.

This was a reference to the demand of the Kohima Village Council and an Angami tribal body to not let people from other districts of Nagaland be quarantined in Kohima, which has the State’s only bio-safety level 3 lab for conducting swab tests.

The Angamis dominate Kohima, both the capital and the district, while the village council controls social issues in the State capital.

The Naga People’s Front, the State’s main Opposition party, also criticised the government for its shoddy planning on quarantining the returnees.

Neither Mr. Phom nor Health Department officials responded to calls for any clarification on the issue.

Officials in Nagaland’s Dimapur town, the communication hub where all State returnees arrive by train and flight, said some 2,000 people have returned.

Till 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nagaland had recorded 18 positive patients, all of them returnees.

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