Cops thanked for safe return from Assam with sick sibling
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, January 11 2024: "It was on Friday, May 12 last year that the five of us along with my immobile elder brother travelled through Kangpopki under immense difficulties to reach home.

We were able to take a proper breathe only after crossing Kangpokpi," recounted Sougaijam Laingam of Ngaikhong Siphai, Bishnupur district, who has been wondering like all others on how long will it take for the people to move freely in the land left behind by the ancestors.

The People's Chronicle has been periodically retelling heart-warming stories as well as tales of horror faced by ordinary people due to the ethnic conflict which broke out between the Meetei and Kuki communities on May 3 .

Laingam, who was taking care of his sick brother at Apollo Hospital, Guwahati recounted the struggles he and his family faced when the conflict suddenly broke out in Manipur.

"On May 3 last year, my elder brother Sougaijam Omendro, who was suffering from a bone disease, underwent his second operation at Apollo Hospital, Guwahati.

As my brother was immobile, I and four others had gone to take care of him.

However, news soon reached us that a conflict had broken out between the Meetei and Kuki communities in Manipur.

"Although the patient was discharged from the hospital, we could not return home and stayed at a hotel in Guwahati.

Our funds depleted soon and we could not even ask out families to send money, as curfew was imposed in Manipur and internet services banned.

We were really desperate as we did not know anyone in Guwahati.

After contacting friends and acquaintances in other states, who generously send us money via Gpay, we were able to stay in the hotel for few more days.

"On May 12, I came across the helpline number uploaded on the Facebook page of Poknapham and The People's Chronicle.

I immediately called the number and was put on the phone with Manipur police additional SP (Prosecution) Sanghamita Haobam.

I informed the officer of our plight and she immediately talked with the authorities concerned, following which we were able to leave Guwahati on the same day.

We reached Mao around 3.30 am the next day, where a team of Mao Police received us and escorted us till Lairou.

"From Lairou, we joined a convoy of central forces and safely made it through Kangpokpi.

The convoy accompanied us till Sekmai Community Health Centre, where an ambulance arranged by the Health Department was waiting to take us home.

Even though we had travelled along with the security forces, we could barely breathe until we crossed Kangpokpi.

At Kangpokpi, we saw Kuki volunteers armed with slingshots and other weapons on the road.

They did not know that we were mixed in with the convoy, which prevented any incident.

If the volunteers had found us, I do not know what would have happened to us.

It still terrifies me to think of that day," Laingam said.

Laingam then extended his deepest appreciation to Sanghamita Haobam, who helped the group reach home safely.

"Sanghamita would pick up my call regardless of the time and assured us of our safety," he recalled, adding that he shall be forever grateful to the officer.

Laingam also expressed his gratitude to Mao police station OC Jonah, Health director Dr Sasheekumar and Imphal West CMO Dr Joykumar.

"While all of us are now safe and well at home, it is extremely disheartening to experience such deep fear and panic when we were only returning home.

It gave the feeling of living like a lowly person in one's own land.

Hpw long are we going to stay in this depressing impasse?" he wondered and urged the government to help bring about an effective solution to the violence.

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