Sunday, 23 December 2012


One journalist dead, 4 vehicles burned to ashes

As Christmas draws nearer riots in Imphal worsen. Ironically the birth of the ‘Prince of peace’ will be met with one of the most violent protests seen in Imphal this year.

As i sit and type i can swear I heard two gunshots. Around 2pm yesterday curfew was announced in the city for 16 hours, after a journalist Thangjam Nanao Singh alias Dilip was shot by policemen in Thangmeiband,when police opened fire to disperse bandh supporters who torched the vehicle of the officer-in-charge of Lamphel police station.

Thangjam Nanao Singh, a reporter of the Prime Time Channel was taken to RIMS hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. His camera was reported missing after the youth with whom he had left it with was arrested.

The unethical act of confiscation of a journalist’s property by police is condemned by the journalists of Manipur. In act of protest a number of journalists gathered in front of the Lamphel police station last afternoon. Eventually the camera was returned to the Journalist Union. Dilip had filmed the riots where the police tried to disperse protestors by firing guns and tear gas.

The locals of the Thangmeiband area, like everywhere else in Imphal city were protesting the immoral conduct of NCSN IM cadre Livingstone Anal towards a Manipuri Actress Momoko.

On December 19 Momoko along with several artists from Imphal had gone to Chandel district of Manipur to attend a musical concert as special invitees. Livingstone Anal, Lt. Col of the militant outfit NSCN(IM) in an inebriated condition allegedly molested and assaulted the actress. When a colleague artist tried to stop it, Livingstone blank fired on them. This was carried on in the presence of a policeman who was unwilling to engage in the commotion.

Protests against the unacceptable act continue all throughout Imphal and an indefinite bandh has been announced. In many parts of Imphal clashes continue between the protesters and the police.

Natives of the hill districts are most affected as they could not return to their respective places for the Christmas holidays. While the government has provided escorts to protect the buses and vehicles bound to the different districts, reports continue of mob attacks on the vehicles despite the presence of escorts.

Differences continues between the rioters and the police with bandh and curfew being announced side to side. No solution seems near as one incident after the other only aggravate the situation. Furthermore the riot comes dangerously close to attaining a communal colour, with the ongoing issue of Naga peace talks.


Photo: (e-pao) 1. A scene on Imphal streets, 2. Protests by the Artist forum of Manipur.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

                           Little precious Moments.

8 days ago, on December 1, i woke up complaining about my migraine as i had slept a mere 3 hours. It was World's Aids' Day and we had been assigned to cover events in different parts of Chennai City.
7 am in the morning the sun was already up and hot as i walk down Marina Lane with a flustered face.
At that moment in time my awareness was only that i had to cover an HIV Awareness program. My thought  was not on the millions of affected children who woke up knowing that this in the only day in a year that people remember them and actually celebrate for them.
2 hours later i had caught a bus but cursed myself after realising, after two stations, that I'm on the wrong bus.
After getting on the right bus i continued my way towards Nungambakkam where i was to cover the HIV Awareness program.
The Venue was 'Good Shepherd School', a catholic institute for girls. I walked in nonsensical with the sole aim to cover the event be done with and head back to hostel to get some sleep. 
There were around 20 HIV infected kids sitting on the elevated platform in front of the school, the campus was filled with hundreds of students of the school. 
There i sat and watched spell bound at how young the children actually were. I had never felt more humbled in my entire life.
One can never begin to imagine how the children live knowing their lives have been numbered mercilessly for somebody else' mistakes. Talking about suffering and living suffering is altogether different ends of the stick.
Only one day, a few hours of that 'one day', millions of people like me remember them and think about their pain.But they go through life experiencing pain each second..counting down each second of their life.
Though i was not permitted to talk to them personally, i watched them silently and they did not fail to move my proud heart to tears.
8 days have passed..there is nothing i can do for them but to share my experience with a few circle of friends. But they have done a lot for me. They have taught me in their on big way that life is merciless but it is precious at the same time, we only have to appreciate and live the best way we can.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Solomon, the pillar of rock, wise and strong.

“Tough this children look happy and cheerful now..emotionally,  they are sad” says Solomon as he looks on to the few kids grinning besides him  posing for the camera.
“Can you see the little girl over there? The dark one” he said. I looked toward his stretched finger and see a girl not more than 8 years, smilling in a confused way at the many cameras flashing in front of her. “One day she came up to me and asked me ‘appa do you not love me because i am black?’ i realise then” Solomon continued despondently, “that she is searching for the love and care that has been deprived from her by the parents”.
As Mr. Solomon continued to answer our queries, more students had joined the little ones from ‘the Shelter Trust’ for the photo session in front of the banner ‘World’s Aids, Dec-2012’.
Mr Solomon presently runs a home for the HIV infected children called Shelter Trust. The children are as young as 3 1/2 years, and the oldest at 16 years. There are a total of 33 children in his trust at present.
Though not much aid had been received from the government other than in the form of ART tablets, Solomon says ‘i am positive in my attitude’. He is currently a Ph.d scholar in the university if madras in the Religion and philosophy department.
Solomon started the Trust solely with the aim of provide a home for the ‘unfortunate’ children who he says, ‘are innocent victims of somebody else’s fault’. He first started taking care of the infected children who are left unwanted in the hospital. Then as the number of children grew the needs of the home also grew.
At present the economic needs of the shelter are met by well wishers and friends. He also works as the co-ordinator  for domestic worker and with an NGO to support both the shelter and his family economically.
Solomon who is the father of two children himself says he feels the emotional competition between the kids to gain his attention. ’How much of myself, my portion can i give to them?” he says inquiringly. When i asked if he is the only person taking care of the 33 children, he replies beamingly, that there are 7 staffs employed in the shelter as of now. What is even more interesting is that all the staffs are also HIV position persons that there.
Not only are the children cared for and sent to a regular schools, a number of recreation activities are also provided for to amuse themselves. “they have their own carom board , chess, toys and reading room” even a television he said. They are also taken out on picnics, to parks, MGM and even to the beach.
When i glanced toward the crowd of children a few feet away, i noticed the same boy who had earlier entertain the event with his dance moves and was awarded with a loud and long standing applause from the whole school. Solomon may or may not have noticed but he went on to say that some of the children are exceptionally ‘talented’. They do ‘excellent artwork’ he said, one of them had won the first title in a competition in Loyola college. ‘he won the first title out of 400 people’ he says, with the enthusiasm of a proud father.
The trust which started 8 years ago when he adopted an orphaned child infected with Aids, is now a proud shelter taking care of 33 HIV positive children. It is located in Red Hills of Chennai.
Things had been really challenging for him from the beginning both emotionally and physically. Though he says he has done what he thinks is best, he admits that there are two things that he will never be able to do for them. ”...they start crying ‘i want my mommy, i want my daddy to come’ ..if a child is crying i want his particular pen, i can go buy a pen for them..but where do you expect me to buy a mommy and daddy for them?”. This he says is ‘pretty depressing’ for him and the staff. Another problem is that even if he has all the money in the world there is no cure for the children which he says is unfair on the innocent children.
Some of the children in the shelter have single alive parents, he says but he is still the ‘Appa’ to all the kids and he believes it is his duty to be impartial in his treatment.” When a particular child falls sick”, he explains,” and needs extra care and attention” the other children feel threatened. What the children basically need is the love and care that they lacked and has been “deprived from them by their parents”.
When asked what else he would like add or share from his journey of 8 years, he looks adoringly at the children, than looks away and reflects for a moment. He then spoke  solemnly ‘in a family, when a child falls sick, you know, the parents, how much tension that they(parent) go through, here it is i know for sure that the children are medically in compromise..that they are going to die”, he adds “it is very emotionally draining on me, to see children passing away in front of me”.