T S Haokip
The honourable PM in his address to the nation on the 19th of March 2020 has said, ”On March 22, at 5 pm stand on your doors and windows for 5 minutes and clap, ring a bell to salute people who are serving the nation tirelessly.” Oh! How they’d wished to oblige the request and stand at their doors and ring those bells. The only problem was that all their doors and windows were no more.
When on the 24th of March the PM declared National lockdown and issued #SocialDistancing and #isolation norms and advised people to stay home, Chassad villagers could not oblige the same because their homes were no more. The possibility of maintaining #SocialDistancing by villagers whose 150 houses were burnt down and who are now housed in temporary camps is near to zero. But what is more dreadful than Coronavirus to them is this virus of homelessness. When people missed going to malls, restaurants, and workplaces, the villagers of Chassad missed sleeping on their own beds at home, eating home-cooked foods and using their Toilets.
But when the PM, yet again, urged people to switch off lights of their homes at 9 pm for nine minutes on April 5 and light up lamps, candles and mobile flashlights to display the nation’s collective spirit to defeat #Coronavirus, Chassad villagers must have hung their heads in shame because for the 3rd time after their village was gutted to flames on 16th March by the neighbouring villagers, they will not be able to oblige the PM’s request again. More than the cries of the women and children who long for the comfort of their homes, the thought of them not being able to follow those advisories must have upset them more.
Believe me; they have full faith in the Party and the present Government. In fact, they have unanimously voted for BJP during the last Lok-sabha elections. Unfortunately, their candidate could not secure a win in the outer Manipur seat but the party’s performance overall filled them with a sense of optimism and hope; a hope for peace and development. Thence they have every reason to enthusiastically follow what the PM says, but for their present plight. The State Government has initiated the process of rebuilding Chassad. The villagers have no doubt in the capacity of the Govt. to rebuild Chassad and ensure that the people are resettled and secured.
On 5th April 2020 at 9 PM, Chassad villagers will not be switching their lights off as all their light bulbs, together with all their belongings in their houses have been reduced to just ashes. While the Nation is in the process of observing ‘staying at home’ for 21 days, they have completed more than 21 days of staying outside their homes. It must be their sincere prayer that while the nation fights this highly contagious disease and are self-isolating at home, any next initiative of the PM if it does not involve staying in tents in groups and walking over burnt remains of houses while children and women wail inconsolably, should excuse them from observing it at least until they got homes to observe the #lockdown. Until then, messages like #StayHome and #StaySafe could only remind them more of their homelessness!