Traders’ Prey

Z Lohe

The consumers remain innocent and ignorant of what will harm their health when eaten and thus remained easy prey to predators, the traders of all food items which are not organic. After years of remaining insensitive to general health of the citizens of the State of Nagaland, for the first time, Nagaland Health Department has just done one thing right and befitting in exposing how the people of Nagaland are being fed with contaminated fish for years followed by seizures of consignments of formalin injected fish from traders which is poisonous for health.

 

Kudos to those authorities who took sincere initiatives in the interest of the gullible consumers. The general public deserves such protective actions of the Govt. all the time. Not only fish supplied to our markets is poisonous but several food items in the markets are adulterated in one way or the other as I believe. I do not very much trust the efficiency of food quality control under Government of India (GOI).

 

One instance led me to have lack of confidence in the system in the country is that the 91st Amendment of the Constitution of India was to downsize the Jumbo size ministries to 15% of the total number of any Legislative Assembly. In the process, States started violating the law at will, and yet the Union Govt. had no botheration lest there be law suits in the court by private individuals/parties against the violation of the law.

 

When the Supreme Court of India intervened in one of such case and ordered for enforcement of the said law, its application was made simply haphazard and erratic as against the principle of uniform enforcement as though the law was made for convenient use of the individual States. This being the Indian attitude towards its laws, I believe Indian laws are at the mercy of the rich and powerful even in respect of production of food items. Laws are adequately framed but compromises and manipulations of those laws are tacitly allowed just as the downsizing law. Whereas, the innocent common man is the ultimate victim of such lawlessness.

 

Specifically, by experience, when fish is caught from pond in Dimapur and to be transported to Kohima without delay has to be in ice lest even within three hours it starts rotting because it is pure and without preservative agent as poisonous formalin. Prior to detection and seizure of hundreds of kilograms of formalin injected fishes in the State, I used to wonder how fishes in the market could last for so long without ice being used.

 

Thus, our people are being treated worst than guinea pig by mercantile traders for decades in absence of the State Govt’s vigil to check illegal trade. A guinea pig gets undivided attention of the researcher when placed under test, whereas, none bothers about the welfare of the ignorant consumers of such amount of chemical laced fish to the delight of powerful traders. Consumption of contaminated fish or any adulterated food item is nothing but slow poisoning of the body.

 

According to Indian law, whether supply of poisoned food item for general consumption is considered crime or not? Being not a lawyer myself, I poised this question to Naga lawyers. When a man uses any weapon and kills another man or when accidentally a person is injured or killed under the wheels of a vehicle, the act of the aggressor is considered a crime. Eating formalin laced fish by one will not cause him to die instantly except that it will steadily destroy his system and by which he may suffer from cancer or from any fatal system failure. Slow poisoning or instant death has similar end result.

 

The public therefore must not remain mute spectators to what is happening in today’s Nagaland. We, the consumers, are not animals in the zoo. We are created by God not be the simple prey to those greedy and manipulative predators, the traders. We, the consumers, do not eat the fish free of cost. The quality and quantity of the fish must worth our money. We have fundamental rights to fight against exploitation.

 

How Govt. of Nagaland is handling this particular issue of supplying poisonous food item to Nagaland market?

 

1. Monitoring the consignment of fish has to be on regular basis and not one time show like Swatch Bharat by which VIPs sweeping the dirty street with broom and had it telecast and splashed it in front pages of news papers. One seizure and subsequent exposure in the media is never the solution to the menace. Such exhibitionism will not deter the predators to stop supplying contaminated fish to our markets.

 

2. Whether those traders caught selling adulterated fish are allowed scot-free without being appropriately punished? If any culprit happens to be indigenous Naga trader, beside being punished his trade license should be cancelled. If the trader happens to be a non-local, beside slapping punishment, he should be banished from Nagaland along with cancellation of his trade license. In the recent seizures, if not the Govt. preferred to shelve its punitive actions against the erring traders in secret, nothing is heard about how it dealt with those traders beside seizing their items.

 

3. Lest the State Govt. becomes serious and enforces the law on the issue in question determinately by competent and honest authority, it will become another Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act. Unless the monitors have integrity, they may start certifying formalin-fishes which will once again fill our markets. In the event of law enforcers and unscrupulous traders combined and become one party as just in the case of liquor, the temporary ban of sale of formalin injected fish will be just a futile exercise.

 

4. It is highly appreciable that four Districts have now banned import of fish. The ban must continue till the Govt. strengthens the system of monitoring by which import of such harmful food item is sensitized and checked. For we can survive without eating fish, rather how many people were poisoned to death because of consumption of contaminated fish. Be serious, after all, what is more important than health of the people.