Tripura, which shares its border with Bangladesh, sees the present crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic from a different perspective as the international border remains porous. Despite the issue being a political one, it has contributed to the present crisis due to the possible fear of the virus coming from the other side of the border. Amarjyoti Borah reports
The Outbreak of COVID-19 in many states of India has again pushed the debate on the importance of focusing more on the International border, bordering Bangladesh and Tripura. Fearing an uprising on the issue, the BJP led Union government is keeping a close watch on the developments near the border, in pursuant to the outbreak. The state has already screened around 70,000 persons for possible corona virus infection and has quarantine around 200 people.
After the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in both the houses of the parliament, there was a huge demand for more focus on the international border with Bangladesh and for sealing of the border, however, that momentum was slowly lost in the next few months as the anti- CAA movement didn’t continue in its spirit.
Now with the outbreak of the Corona Virus in the neighbouring Bangladesh as well, there is a fear that the virus could enter the state through infiltrators as a portion of the international border is not sealed.
Bangladesh is also looking at a major health crisis as it has quarantined several people who are potential positive corona virus cases.
There is a fear within the BJP party’s national leadership that an issue could emerge on the subject of the porous borders, and to ensure that it doesn’t happen, the BJP led governmentat the centre is monitoring the situation in Tripura closely, and is also in close communication with the Tripura government.
“It’s nothing political, but to ensure safety of everyone at the moment. A mis-communication at the moment or a social movement at this point of time could be catastrophic looking at the prevailing situation, where the only option is to maintain distance. This is the reason why the BJP leadership is monitoring the situation carefully and giving a lot of focus on the state,” said a BJP secretary associated with the BJP’s national leadership.
The party secretary also said that the wave of the anti CAA movement has still not died down, and if the people of the state gets a message that Corona virus cases are being spread from neighbouring Bangladesh through the porous borders, this could lead to immediate protests and there could be a huge health and social risk involved.
“The BJP leadership doesn’t want to take a risk on this issue – both for political and security aspects, and accordingly the national leadership is in regular contact with the state leadership. The BJP leadership has also set up a team comprising of IT professionals to counter fake news and to report those,” said the party secretary.
According to government sources of Tripura, the BJP led state government is also worried about the impacts of a possible economic slowdown and the impacts on livelihood and jobs, and in this regard the state government it likely to send a delegation to the centre soon after the end of the lockdown period, for a relief package.
“The BJP came to power for the first time in Tripura with promises of jobs and economic development, and a slowdown at this crucial moment, could impact that promise in a big way, as things had just started to take off in a planned manner. The BJP leadership is very worried at the moment for this,” said a senior BJP secretary who is overseeing affairs in Tripura.
The BJP led government, immediately after coming to power in Tripura, had taken measures to boost employment and income generation in all the strong areas in the state, but is now looking at a possible setback.
“The Tripura government is confident of bouncing back from the present crisis, but is presently more concerned about the health crisis, and about the health of the migrants who are working in other states and have returned home,”said an official attached with the Tripura health department.