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Amidst Bandhs and Blockades, Manipur Children Dare to Dream

“Manipur is beautiful, without the bandhs and blockades.”

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I love Manipur but not Bandhs and economic blockades, says 10-year-old Anurag Nongmaithem.

Anurag’s father, Nongmaithem Michael, was killed in a fake encounter when he was only one. After years of litigation, the Guwahati High Court ordered the administration to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to his mother after duly proving that Michael was in fact killed in custody on 4 November 2008.

Now, Anurag is in class 5 and lives with his brother and widowed mother, Neena, a member of EEVFAM (Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families) – a rights-based organisation fighting for justice in the Supreme Court for 1,528 alleged extrajudicial killings in Manipur.

“Manipur is beautiful, without the bandhs and blockades.”
Anurag’s father, Nongmaithem Michael, was killed in a fake encounter. He lives with his brother and mom in Manipur.
(Photo Courtesy: Sunzu Bachaspatimayum)

He loves to play football and spends a lot of his time playing video games on his phone. The loss of his father has instilled fear in him even though he cannot make sense of the situation in Manipur. However, he hopes for peace and normalcy to return.

“Manipur is beautiful, without the bandhs and blockades.”
Jason, 11, lost his father even before he was born.
(Photo Courtesy: Sunzu Bachaspatimayum)

Jason is also one of the kids, affected by the conflict.

He never got to see his father. He lost him even before he was born. Jason’s father, Mung Hanhzo, was killed on April 6th 2007 by a police bullet on his head. According to the police, Jason was trying to shoot and flee when he was asked to stop.

Jason continues to live with his mother, Renu Takhellembam, who’s the president of EEVFAM. For Jason, Manipur has become synonymous with bandhs and blockades, yet the little boy has adjusted to life amidst uncertainties. He loves to read and in his leisure indulges in video games.

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“Manipur is beautiful, without the bandhs and blockades.”
Sanayai, 14, dreams to become a rock star.
(Photo Courtesy: Sunzu Bachaspatimayum)

Sanayai, 14, dreams to become a rock star. She is preparing for her upcoming matriculation examinations, and is learning Manipuri traditional martial art with the belief that the skills will help in self-defence.

She misses her eldest sister, Sanathoi, who is pursuing her graduation in Mumbai. She feels the impact of the conflict in Manipur, and believes the people of Manipur do not enjoy freedom and are hence, unhappy.

Camera and Reporting: Sunzu Bachaspatimayum
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia

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