GUWAHATI: Blyth’s Tragopan is the state bird of Nagaland and the bovine creature, Mithun, the state animal. There is now a sarcastic addition – ‘Marie’ the “State biscuit”.
Altogether 169 returnees were sent to Tuensang, the eastern Nagaland town, three days after institutional quarantine at Kohima recently. During the 12-hour bumpy and dusty journey, all that they were allegedly offered were Marie biscuits and water.
There is now a campaign on social media, particularly WhatsApp, laced with characteristic north-eastern humour that castigates the state government for alleged non-performance during the COVID-19 crisis. The users are exchanging morphed photographs of a biscuit with a picture of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on it and his name written distortedly after the brand.
A supposedly “leaked question” of the Nagaland Public Service Commission exam is also doing the rounds. It asks to name the “State biscuit”. The four options include the biscuit brand in question.
On Friday, when the state’s Health Minister Pangnyu Phom rushed to Tuensang to take stock of the COVID-19 situation, the locals had staged a protest on the same issue. They held banners that read: “Don’t appease us with Marie biscuits and a glass of water”.
Social media users as well as various tribal organisations in the state are annoyed that the state’s coalition government, in which the BJP is a constituent, had sent the returnees to Tuensang by “violating” the mandatory 14-day COVID-19 quarantine protocols.
The government did not wait for the results of swab tests. Soon after the people had reached Tuensang, the results came, confirming one of them to be COVID-19 positive.
Earlier, two influential tribal organisations in Kohima had asked the state government to send the returnees to whichever districts they hail from. They had warned that the government would be held solely responsible in the event of community transmission of the disease.
The state so far recorded 36 COVID-19 cases, all returnees.