Manipur strife victims’ body urges Govt for monetary allowance to sustain their living
Imphal: Despite the government having taken up different schemes for the welfare of the people currently sheltered at relief camps, owing to the continuing ethnic strife, the affected people belonging to the Meitei community have voiced out their utmost sufferings in eking out their living.
Leaders of the Joint Committee on Affected Meitei Victims Manipur
Stating that money is the only driving wheel to augment their daily requirements, they categorically demanded the government to provide family allowance money on priority basis.
“It seems justice has become a distant dream for us”, said a visibly perturbed Naba Ningthoujam, co-convenor of Joint Committee on Affected Meitei Victims Manipur – a body formed by representatives of the hard-hit 47 villages from Bishnupur, Tengnoupal, Kakching, Thoubal, Imphal West and Imphal East districts of the state.
Over 60,000 people, who were affected by the ongoing violence that unfolded on May 3 are currently putting up at around 351 relief camps in both the valley and hill districts since then. Of them, members of the committee are taking refuge at 249 relief camps in the valley districts. At least 4,786 houses were ravaged by the violence across the state
Naba (49), who hails from Chin-Kuki-Zo dominated Churachandpur district and whose house was torched by miscreants, is currently taking shelter at a relief camp opened on the premises of a college in Bishnupur district since violence erupted.
Speaking to Waari Singbul, he said most of the inmates, who are now lodged across the relief camps, are under severe mental stress, and the strength to hold on to the hope of returning back to their respective homes seems to be fading away.
“We came running for our lives with nothing, but with just a single piece of cloth to cover our bodies. It’s trying times and we know we can’t expect the comfort of our homes. But with no job in hand and without any money, our heart breaks when our children demand snacks to eat when they are hungry, or when they fall ill. We can cope with the two square meals of rice and lentils, but the children can’t,”
Naba Ningthtoujam (extreme right), co-convenor, Joint Committee on Affected Meitei Victims Manipur
“Considering all our plights, we earnestly appeal to the government to provide allowance money first, and secondly, necessary measures to ensure the internally displaced persons return to their original homes and stay there without fear. Later the government could compensate for our destroyed houses and properties,” he said.
“However small the allowance money may be, it could uplift us a little bit from the penury we are going through,” continued Naba.
In the education sector, two months after the violence erupted, the education department had notified the reopening of schools. According to a government report, around 14,736 school-going children are internally displaced in Manipur. Efforts are being made by the state authorities to admit the displaced children to the nearest school.
While he lauded the government’s effort, Naba lamented that the helplessness of broken parents currently taking shelter at make-shift relief camps becomes even more stark when their children start attending schools.
“Even though the government says that children are given education free of cost, expenses are incurred on our part. They have to be fed early ahead of the camp’s scheduled time. Their travel too costs money,” he further lamented.
Khaidem Ratan (53), chairman of the Joint Committee, responding to October 10 notice of the state Home department that the government will ensure protection of the properties of the displaced persons in adherence to a Supreme Court September order, he said, “it’s too little too late. The damage has already been done.”
Ratan further pointed out that it seems the government has taken some hasty decisions regarding the paperwork for compensation. He said, “we were confused specifically on the word ‘criteria’ mentioned in the compensation form. We had no idea what the criteria was. Though the word has been removed in the new form.”
The chairman expressed happiness at the timely intervention of the Chief Secretary of the state. In a recent sitting with the Chief Secretary and the representatives of the victims, the former had sought cooperation as well as suggestions on the assessment of the violence-damaged properties for a proper streamlining.
Ratan Khaidem (Extreme right), Chairman, Joint Committee on Affected Meitei Victims Manipur
Exuding confidence that the proposal for joint assessment involving both the government officials and the victims of the damaged properties will be a meaningful effort, Kh. Ratan added that it is important that clarity is maintained in the compensatory work process as it involves 5 different departments of the government.
The joint committee was formed in September, 4 months after the violence broke out.