Given the current tense situation in Manipur due to the ongoing 52+ days of Economic blockade by United Naga Council on both the National Highways and counter blockades on several intra state highways by valley based local clubs, travelling from Imphal to any other destinations within and outside Manipur has become almost impossible task.
This was not the ideal Christmas time for the eight children from Chingai, Ukhrul and currently studying in Imphal. Their hopes to be with families for Christmas were shattered when they saw no sight of ending the current impasse as the Christmas day approaches nearer. They had no clue of what was happening, they had no idea who were the United Naga Council and why were they insisting on continuing the inhuman way of blocking people’s lifeline even after 50 days specially during the festival season. All they wanted was to be with their family to enjoy the Christmas holidays.
Chingai lies in the north east part of Manipur in Ukhrul district at a distance of around 170 KM from Imphal. Even during normal days without blockades, travelling this route in the hilly terrain of Manipur is a long and tiring journey. However, all hopes were not lost for the eight children of Chingai, thanks to the age old brotherhood spirit of people in Manipur and the big heart-ed people who believe in peaceful and harmonious co-existence.
On learning from a friend about the sad story of the students, a group of friends from three different communities – a Meetei, a Thadou and a Tangkhul – set out on a mission to fulfil the wishes of the children to be with their families for the Christmas. They knew that it would be very dangerous to travel through the Imphal to Ukhrul state highway as this stretch had witnessed intense counter blockades in past few days. They had to come up with a strategy to avoid the blockades or take another route.
On 23rd December, the trio had to wake up at 3 A.M, before the blockade supporters could start their day, and set out for the mission. The eight children were squeezed in 2 small vehicles – one modified diesel auto-rickshaw and a car. The Meetei guy took the responsibility to ensure the children were safely delivered to Kangpokpi. His Thadou friend from Motbung helped the stretch of the road from Kangpokpi to Senapati. Crossing highway stretch from Imphal to Senapati was the most difficult part, though would have been easiest to travel if not for the blockades and rising ethnic tensions. Throughout the journey, the Tangkhul friend was driving the car, he volunteered to bring his own car in spite of high probability of getting damaged by blockade supporters.
The trio’s mission was over once they successfully deliver the eight children to a friend at Senapati. But the journey for the children has just started. They will be travelling to Ukhrul with a Tata Di in a dangerous and long snaky Jeep track in the hills of northern Manipur, where families are eagerly waiting for them. From Ukhrul, they have to travel another 4 hours to reach safely at Chingai for Christmas.
- Written By: KanglaOnline NewsDesk with inputs from 3 anonymous friends (Meetei, Thadou & Tangkhul)
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