Bold and the Beautiful : Other side of the Jun 18 story
Source: The Sangai Express / N Tombi

Imphal, June 17: The unforgettable June 18 mass uprising may have taken place four years back but to some immediate family members of the victims, the event seems to have occurred just recently as memories of their near and dear ones continue to shadow them every single day.

While all the victims� families with whom the Sangai Express met were unanimous that the June 18 Uprising should be observed without any divisions, they said that the supreme sacrifice should not be merely reduced to an annual affair of floral tribute but should be an opportunity to unite the people cutting across community and religious barriers.

Even as a victim�s family members are yet to recover from the shock of losing their loved one another said she derives strength from her husband�s sacrifice in facing life�s struggle and uncertainties.

Of the victims� immediate family members, including one who lost her leg in the June 18, 2001 firing, a family shared their pangs of not only undergoing mental trauma but also the economic hardships they have had to endure after losing their bread winners while on the other hand a widow inspite of the heart-wrenching experience is unwilling to surrender to fate.

Three families contacted by the Sangai Express include the Kshetrimayum family of Singjamei Wangma Kshetri Leikai who lost a son and the head of the family after a few months in a cruel twist of fate.

Ksh Romio was among 18 victims of the eventful day leaving behind his parents and wife Shanti.

The tragedy of the Kshetrimayum family did not end with Romio�s death for his father Iboyaima also passed away five months later following a fatal electrocution mishap.

Iboyaima was an Electricity Department emplo yee. Having lost both her husband and son, a distraught Bormani said that the family relied heavily on the two bread winners and added that they are currently finding it hard to make both ends meet.

Unable to shake off the trauma of losing her husband at the prime of her life and clueless over which economic venture to pursue, Romio�s wife Shanti, holding back her tears said that for the sake of her minor child Guldi she procured loans from local money lenders to rear �broilers� as a source of sustenance. The Kshetrimayum family indeed seems to be in dire straits, as Bormani said that life cannot be any harsher than what they are presently facing.

Her only comfort is knowing that her son died for a cause dear to the land.

referring to preparations for the June 18 observation, she expressed keen desire that tributes be paid to the departed souls at a single venue.

Bormani said she came to know of Romio�s demise while scanning through this paper the next morning and since then had been compiling copies whenever news items related to the June uprising are published.

On the other side, despite being burdened for no fault of hers, when she lost her husband Laitonjam Rajkumar in police firing on July 20, 2001, Laitonjam ongbi Konthoujam Ningol Phalguni Devi showed grit and determination not to be bogged down by the tragic blow to her blissful life. Despite the determination she demonstrated when The Sangai Express met her at her parental home in Sagolband Meino Leirak, Phalguni said for two years since Rajkumar�s death she found it hard to recover from the shock and trauma.

Phalguni asserted that inspite of her personal loss she would like to show other widows that there is still life to live and has gone ahead and established an NGO exclusively for welfare of widows for which she had already collected 120 names and photos. She is currently employed as an accountant in an NGO.

When loneliness descends and engulfs her in distress, she said memories of her husband rejuvenates her and renews her determination to care and nurture her son Gulson who is reading in class III.

For Phalguni the annual observation of June 18 does not satisfy her and she intimated of her plan to erect Rajkumar�s statue so that his presence could be felt everyday.

Conveying that she will join the people in the mass obeisance to the June 18 martyrs, Phalguni appealed to all concerned to observe the ritual and offer tribute with sincerity.

For Sorokhaibam Ongbi Sobita, who had her leg amputated following gunshot wounds on the same day, the very thought of having taken part in the event and witnessed the power of unity on that day diminishes her personal worry of being a handicap. Having embraced Christianity and living with her husband, who is a police constable at the JN Hospital quarters, Sobita summed up her personal agony by pointing towards her artificial limb which require refitting at regular interval.