Jovial Michaeldev had courage to sacrifice for motherland
Source: Chronicle News Service / Mission Oinam

Imphal, February 12 2024: The brave warriors of Meetei were known for their courageous stand against the mighty British and today the present generation is fighting to defend their motherland and its honour against the aggressive elements threatening identity of Manipur.

Many have fallen in the current conflict with Kuki-Zo militants, who are eyeing to disintegrate the state, its territory and identity.

Nongthombam Michaeldev, a jovial young man, was one among many who made the ultimate sacrifice in the current crisis.

It was the chilly morning of January 30 when large number of Chin-Kuki-Zo militants armed with high calibre weapons and grenade launchers launched a fierce attacked on Kadangband village in Imphal West district.

It did not take long for the news of the attack find its place on the social media.

In the afternoon, reports of two village volunteers getting killed in the attack came, one of whom was Nongthombam Michaeldev of Konung Leikai, Thangapat Mapal.

I also went to Kadangband to cover the incident in the late afternoon.

As I reached the village, I came across a middle-aged woman wailing while muttering "Isn't that Michael? My son always sports a smiling face and never knew how to get angry".

Upon seeing her, I thought if she was Michaeldev's mother but it turned out she was not but one among many mothers, who keep vigil looking after the village volunteers.

It came to light that she came across Michaeldev when he came there to join the village volunteers and his jovial face with calm nature marked an indelible motherly love for him in her heart.

I could heard her muttering again, "Jovial Michael had the courage to sacrifice his life for his motherland and his community." The 30-year-old martyr was the youngest of six children of Nongthombam Imo and Shanti.

He grew up as a good student and cleared HSLC Examination in first division frotn Vale Academy.

He also cleared HSE in first division from Herbert Higher Secondary School, after which he completed BE (Civil) in first class.

"The activities of the Chin-Kuki-Zo militants from Myanmar is too much, I cannot bear it.

They may not have much issues in getting defeated in the conflict as they will return to Myanmar one day.

But for us, it is our duty to save Kangleipak.

It would be impossible to protect Kangleipak if the youths do not rise and take a stand.

We, the youths should protect our Kangleipak," was the words Michaeldev would often say, recounted his elder brother Nongthombam Bijen.

Interacting with The People's Chronicle, Bijen said that his brother had a cheerful face.

He never did anything wrong to anybody and always respected elders.

The entire family were pinning their hopes on him becoming an accomplished man one day and raise the prestige of the family.

"Despite being the youngest, he was not a pampered person.

He understood the pain of poverty and supported the family by home tutoring and conducting coaching classes for 5 to 10 students at home," Bijen said.

"My brother was a hard-working person.

After completing his engineering course, he operated a van to earn livelihood.

We brothers run a small toy shop in Konung Mamang and he was the one who procured the toys from Moreh in his van.

He was not a man who clamour for government jobs but always said that he would rather become an entrepreneur and work with unemployed youths to contribute to the state's economy.

He was our precious gem and his sacrifice has left us heartbroken," Bijen continued.

He further said that Michaeldev hardly returned home after the crisis turned into a full-blown conflict as he could not sleep carefree at home knowing that the foothill villages are vulnerable to attacks from Kuki militants anytime.

On January 22, he came home to join Imoinu Iratpa ritual and left home early the next morning.

"It was the last time we had a meal together.

Though we are left heartbroken, we also feel proud that our youngest sibling gave his life to defend the motherland," Bijen said as tears trickled down his cheeks.

Acknowledging the sacrifices made by the people to defend the state, its territory and identity, Bijen said that he wants the situation resolved and the communities co-exist peacefully.

He also drew attention of the government to fulfil the demands of the people to implement NRC, abrogate SoO with Kuki militants, delete Chin-Kuki-Zo community from the ST list, and replace Assam Rifles with another central paramilitary force in the state.

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