An organisation called 3.5 Collective that is working for the rehabilitation of drug addicts in Manipur, on Sunday, drew the attention of the concerned authorities to address the special needs of the drug users’ community while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organisation alleged that the failure on the part of the state government to address the special needs of the specific population including the drug users’ community behind a recent incident of “torture” of a COVID-19 infected drug user. The 3.5 Collective said this during a press conference held at the office of the Human Rights Alert (HRA) in Imphal’s Kwakeithel on Sunday.
An incident of assaulting a COVID-19 infected drug user who escaped from Covid care centre at RIMS hospital on November 19 went viral on social media.
Addressing the media, convenor of 3.5 Collective, Babloo Loitongbam strongly condemned the incident of manhandling the drug user, while alleging that it was the direct result of the Manipur government’s apathy and wrong policy toward the drug users. He also said that the torture on drug users that went viral on social media was just the tip of an ice berg and it clearly showed the overall attitude of the society and the government towards the drug users’ community which was very unfortunate. The 3.5 Collective strongly condemned such government’s indifference in the strongest term, he said.
Babloo then said that this incident was the fallback of the government’s failure in its policies and the lackadaisical attitude in addressing the special needs of the drug users’ community.
“All in all, it can be rightly termed as a systematic failure of the state government in handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the state,” he said.
He then appealed to the government to address the special needs of the specific population including the drug users’ community, while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic so that such incidents can be reduced to a considerable level in future.
Co-convenor of the 3.5 Collective, Jogesh Maibam also alleged that the indifferent attitude of the government in handling the situation has led to serious chaos in the society. He also said that several representations had been submitted to the authority concerned for the proper medical treatment to drug users who are found to be COVID-19 positive and kept in Covid care centres (CCC). “However, no steps to address the demand are taken up on the part of the state government,” he rued.