Six student organisations in Manipur on Monday staged a sit-in-protest demanding a comprehensive policy for effective measures against the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic in view of fast surging number of COVID-19 cases in the state.
The protest was staged in Imphal’s Keishampat Junction under the banner “Demand for implementation of effective covid-19 counter measure policy.” Placards read as “Implement a comprehensive COVID-19 state policy”, “Open COVID-19 free hospital”, “Constitute COVID-19 task force”, “Ensure availability of kits necessary for COVID-19 treatment,” etc. were displayed at the protest site.
Members of Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), Manipuri Students’ Federation (MSF), Kangleipak Students’ Association (KSA), Students’ Union of Kangleipak (SUK) and Apunba Ireipakki Maheiroi Sinpanglup (AIMS) took part in the protest.
Talking to reporters, DESAM president Nameirakpam Edison demanded that the state government should formulate a new comprehensive policy to fight the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and curb further transmission of the virus in the state.
Informing that the six student bodies have drafted a memorandum containing a 12-point charter of demands related to the pandemic, he said the same will be submitted to the chief minister on Monday. While submitting the memorandum, the student bodies will press the chief minister to implement the demands within the next two or three days.
“If no positive response comes forth from the state government side regarding our demands then we will be compelled to launch intense forms of protest including relay hunger strike and many others,” he warned.
However, they will not indulge in any kind of protests or agitations which will give burdens to the people who are already facing immense hardship due to the pandemic, he added.
The DESAM president then said that the portfolio of the Health department currently held by the chief minister should be allocated to a qualified minister who will be able to handle the prevailing situation effectively.
The chief minister or state Health minister if appointed, along with responsible officials and experts, should convene media briefings on the pandemic at least thrice a week.
Another demand of the student bodies is for opening a COVID-19 dedicated hospital, he said, and added the proposed hospital should have not less than 500 beds and it should be made functional within a week.
Edison further suggested the state government to train government teachers serving in schools, colleges and universities under Disaster Management Act and engage them to create awareness about the pandemic to the public.
He then demanded the state government to publicise expenditure incurred in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic to the public through media from time to time.