The Naga People’s Front (NPF) said it is totally shocked over the Nagaland State government’s decision to celebrate the annual Hornbill Festival 2020. “The party is surprised to see the heartless attitude of the PDA government to conduct the annual festival despite knowing the fact that the Naga society is reeling under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic hitting our state and the positive cases increasing every single day,” the NPF said in a press release on Friday.
On October 21, the Government of Nagaland had issued circular directing departments to initiate the preparation of their respective allocated areas at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama, in view of the forthcoming Hornbill Festival 2020. The State government directed the Industries and Commerce department, Horticulture department, Art and Culture department, Agri and Allied departments, Power Department, PHE department, and the Fire and Emergency Services department to initiate preparations by observing all COVID-19 standard operating procedures and state guidelines issued by the Home and Medical department.
Reacting to this move of the state government, the NPF said each passing day, positive cases of COVID-19 has been “reportedly” increasing and the “State government’s announcement to celebrate Hornbill Festival this year is nothing but ‘Suicidal Mission’”.
The NPF said even if the celebration may be in virtual form, “a festival is a festival, and in any festival celebration, without people’s participation there cannot be any celebration”. It then added, “Therefore, if the government is in the process to celebrate the festival without public participation then there is no need to hold any celebration”.
It then said that when the total lockdown was observed in the State, the “virus did not hesitate to enter our State. “Since this is the case, how far is it safe to celebrate the Hornbill Festival in whatever way the government is contemplating to do?,” the NPF asked. “Can the government assure the Naga public that nothing will happen to any participant by the virus?” it further questioned. The NPF further asked, “Due to the pandemic, the government is well aware that it has curtailed down many income-generating activities of the public, educational institutions have been closed down, many business establishments are limited and religious places are yet to function normally and many tribals abstain from celebrating their own festivals due to the fear of virus transmission then how come the State government take a U-turn to celebrate such event?”
The NPF then said the Nagaland State government must be well aware that the “positivity rate” of COVID-19 in Nagaland has surpassed the national rate, “which clearly indicates that our state has higher transmission than the national rate”. The NPF then cited how Olympics and other events were cancelled due to the pandemic.