The bomb hoax

Kakai Singsit *

Manipur is an enigmatic land where we have no qualms in gifting our neighbours bombs, politicians delivering homilies of honesty and probity when they actually are not and, where it’s normal for bureaucrats and politicians to overtly accept inducements but when it comes to the common man the law becomes thick and heavy.

A land where the consort of police and lawyers will bleed you dry to the bone for minor offenses. A land where proscribed outfits teach decency to politicians, like the one that was seen with a high profile persona of the previous Government.

Where, we have no misgivings in selling off our fields or plots to buy bikes or cars yet flaunt it ostentatiously as if we are scions of millionaires. While we shout from the rooftop for deporting immigrants whereas tucked them in as our tenants. And tipsy police scouring ale inns every evening to recover the money they had paid during the recruitment days and, trying to whisk away drinkers when given less.

Here everybody agrees on little but on one thing, that, every community claims to be the victim of the treachery of the other. And the proliferation of militant groups deserves to find a mention in the Guinness record book.

During one of our evening soirees we were discussing what meat should be ordered for the mari naba. Beef shouted our Brahman friend shocking me out of my sanity. I thought he must be the black sheep of his stock but later came to the realization that this aberration was endemic among the youths.

The plethora of bomb attacks, bomb blasts, bomb gifts or presents has become so common that the terror it was supposed to generate has lost its sting as people are the least ruffled by it.

Khurai was the first place in Manipur that introduced bomb in dice (Lagao) game. It was said that a man put his wager, a Chinese grenade, at spade (Kwak). When the cover was lifted there were two spades (Kwak) so he was rewarded with three grenades.

This bomb culture has given rise to another interesting twist- the demand for security cover in the aftermath of an attack. One top-notch engineer confided that his family has been receiving so many bomb gifts that he is planning to open a private museum with the names of all those generous donors chiselled on it.

The fad for security escort was seen as status symbol by many of our peers. There are people who want to look important and pompous so security escort filled in the vacuum. Many of the so-called bomb attacks were seen by the public with a pinch of salt. Some were even ridiculed as stage-managed.

There was a time when even subaltern officers were given security cover. The modus operandi was finding an obsolete bomb; hire a henchman to throw it into your courtyard then orchestrate some women folks to protest with the demand for providing security. Or engage some local thugs and let them fire few rounds in the air near your house.

But all bomb incidents are not charade as portrayed since many of them had caused extensive loss to lives and properties.

Many years back, the place witnessed a spate of bombings on migrant workers. The latest blast scalped scores. Fear psychosis gripped Imphal city as people were wary of venturing out of their homes for fear of being of one of the unintended victims.

I was a tenant at Thangmeiband, Lourungpurel locality. But it was impossible to remain indoors for long as the call of duty was pressing. I had to go to the university to attend my academic chores.

While walking through the choc-a-bloc lanes of Paona and Thangal bazaar I used to be extremely cautious trying to dodge everything on the way. Every object was a suspect whether it was a car, scooter, bike or bulging black polythene bag filled with junk. I had a horrendous time trying to keep myself in one piece.

I must live for I am too young and precious to die- A man on the cusp of glory and fortune. I drifted further between dream and pure fantasy. A furious honking pinched me up from my reverie with the rider angrily hollering, “Hey! Don’t you have eyes? Why don’t you look where you are going?” Golly, that bike almost killed me !

Around the same time my aunty who was a vendor at Ima market rang up asking me to get provisions that were sent from home. While I was on my way to the university I dropped by and informed her that I will collect it after my chores at the university.

I left the university at around 3:00 pm and dashed for home. On the way back I picked up the provisions; an assortment of masoori dal, sugar, cooking oil and some green groceries wrapped in a black polythene bag.

I boarded an auto- rickshaw and kept the provisions on the back of the compartment and clung to the driver’s seat. The middle row was occupied by three over-sized elderly women. They were talking in hushed tones but I managed to overhear the mention of bomb. Their voices were jittery.

I assumed that the recent spate of bombings at Imphal must have unnerved them. I eaves drop by craning my ears nearer so that I can feast on their flavoursome jibber jabber. It was a food for thought topic provoking my curiosity.

But I could obtain little information as the cacophonous noise of the city, honking vehicles and belching engines wafted their voices away. All I knew was that they were engaged in animated conversation and it was about bomb. And I could sense that they were ill at ease.

Reaching my locality I alighted from the auto, paid the fare, went to the back deck of the auto and hauled out my provisions wrapped in the black plastic bag. One of the elderly lady tapped on my back and asked if the bag was mine. I nodded. Then they went into a roar of laughter. “We thought it might be a bomb and were on the tenterhooks”.

She continued that the passengers occupying the rear seats were suspicious that the bag might contain some detrimental substance but kept mum as they were not in the mood to cause a panic. She sighed a relief. The auto rickshaw chugged away so the laughter.

Bemused, I walked towards my rent house as the scorching sun desiccated my skins. All I could hear was the dragging sound of my footsteps and my heavy breathe. Whatever their contention I thought the excuse of the woman was lame and tenuous.

What if the plastic bag contains a real bomb or other harmful substances thereby putting the lives of their fellow passenger’s in jeopardy ? Do you think that their action is tenable ?

A bomb threat should be taken seriously as it involves human lives and safety. Every suspicious object must be reported to the police right away. I guess many bomb blasts that occurred in Manipur could have been averted if citizens were sagacious enough to report it to the authority. Let’s not regret later on.

Here’s a perfect precedent;

Few years back an IED with the potential to cause extensive damage was detected in my village. It was planted inside a garbage tank near the Presidency College gate.

The ostensible target seems to be the Assam Rifles who were stationed almost a hundred metre distance from the site where the bomb was planted. It was allegedly planted by a group.

As told, the bomb was discovered by three youths of the village who saw two strangers hastening away in a suspicious manner from the site in a motor cycle. It was around 9:30 pm.

At the reflex they could sense that something was amiss. They went to the spot and came across strange objects but were not sure to make head and tails out of it. So they called others who they thought could throw some light. The Assam Rifles and the police were informed who on arrival confirmed that it was an IED. Their alertness averted a major tragedy.

* Kakai Singsit wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on April 01 2022.

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