FRom the past 5 years my parents keep on narrating me on phone about the militants using Loktak as their shelter. My father would always discuss with me to sell off the property in the nearby places, as it may just become another hub for them and we might be in trouble someday. More than 3 years have passed, I had my promise of not to visit the Loktak Lake. When I was in school, I used to go every weekend with my cousin brother just to have fun. Brother was killed in an accident in Goa and after that I never look back to go there as I don’t want to feel the emptiness of his non-existence. I did not even go home as I was so scarred to see his death body and still I live with the thought that he still lives somewhere.
This time I took a break from everything and visit there with my cousin sisters. Things have been changed a lot. The Loktak Lake doesn’t look like a lake anymore. There was no visibility of migratory birds as we used to see 8 years back. It seems like even the wind stop blowing to refresh the tired soul of the farmers and fishermen. The change which I could only noticed was the strange noise of the gunshots spreading in the wide sky from the surrounding places. It might be from Thanga, Karang, Bishempur and Moirang side. The entire water surface was covered with marshy land and the water space was much narrower than what we used to see in decades back. My parents also told me about the burning of the crane which was sent to clean the Lake by the miscreants. No compliant at all, if people are too obsessed of destructing their own property! It is very much usual in Manipur to show their power by burning down the govt. property. Interestingly I have only option to see the Lake, to climb to a Gulmohar tree near the Lake and take a glimpse of its beauty. My cousin sister told me, this tree is used by militants to look for police/commandos coming from other side of the Loktak. I just said “wow” and that’s really great! We are replacing their position today and let’s see who came first today; the police or the militants?
I thought I’m gutsy enough to face anybody. So I was just having fun; sitting on the braches of the tree, eating fruits and taking photographs of the lake. After sometime, I heard somebody calling from far off. Suddenly I realized that I was the first one to jump off from the tree and running towards the road, putting my best effort to speed up where the vehicles were parked. After sometime one of the fisherman told me, don’t panic! Nobody will come here now. Everybody seems to be killed after the Operation Summer Storm and we are at peace working in the field now. I was bit relief. I don’t know why I was scarred of the place where I used to spend lots of time in my childhood. But now every face was strange to me and scary in my eyes. I imagine of guns & grenades in every person’s lubak, tungol which is meant for carrying fish. I remember my mother telling me long time back about the police checking in the Lubak or tungol of the fisherman/fisherwomen by the CRP, having a doubt of them acting as a transporter of the militants. I decided to leave the place as soon as possible as I could no longer stand the insecurity of my own life in my own home. I was just praying inside to pass the road of approx. 5 km long in a second and reach home safely. Finally, I got some space to sit in a Jeep loaded with more than 20 people. It was accommodated like a mini bus. I didn’t bother anymore as I wanted to reach home before the sunset. After all that’s the only transport system we have on that muddy road to the Loktak Lake. I can’t be choosy here for my space and comfort!!
But my mind was bit relaxed after sometime. I was so delighted to see the courage of the fisherwomen walking on the muddy road with a hugely load Lubak on their head. I was asking myself, can I even lift the Lubak on their head? It must be very heavy and seeing their face and their laughter give the courage to live life with full of joy. Their lives seem so simple and meaningful without any materialistic charm. I told myself who said that women are more beautiful with the glitters of the gold. It just shades their natural charm. I was just dreaming what if William Worthsworth was born here! He must have written more beautiful poem than the “Solitary reaper”; a poem more romantic and melancholic than the Solitary Reaper”, after seeing the face of the fisherwomen who are toiling day and night to survive amidst the indiscriminate spray of bullets and grenades. I hope not the solitary reaper was prettier than our own fisherwomen.
About to reach home, the Jeep driver asked me if I carry any Identity-card. I was surprised and answered him bit reluctantly; why should I need an I-card in the field? Who will come and check my I-card? You are not here for a long time so you hardly know what’s happening here in actual. It is more like you see in the English movie. From next time onwards, make sure to carry an I-card with you and he showed me his voter card. It’s your luck that you have not met the CRP or the police Commandos today in the field. They come here very often here to check for the passage of millitants through this road and if they happen to caught you then you have no option to prove your identity. Many questions were hurled in my mind; is it logical and justified morally, ethically to trouble the people who are toiling day and night to survive in this lake from the last 50 years? Isn’t it an insult and humiliation to the people inhibiting here by checking their I-card for every passage to the lake and leaving them only option to work amidst the bullets and the grenades?
I just pray God pay a visit and do the justice towards these farmers and fishermen. Give them the freedom to work without any fear of guns and bullets to this place where they were born and inhibited from the last 50-60 years. It is their birth right. You may choose another place for the battle which you are fighting for yourself. Let’s not kick in the stomach of these people who are already suffering from the hit of poverty and from both natural& man-made calamities. Either you kill them with the bullets or die of starvation; it won’t make any difference to them. They won’t make a JAC to stand against anybody. They don’t even know the meaning of JAC, politics, revolution, justice. Let them free from all these stuffs. They don’t bother about it as they don’t know the meaning and have no time to think about your petty politics. They have thier own battle to feed their children and family. They only know how to count on the dead bodies killed by the foreign made guns and bullets. All of them are illiterate, they have no idea of the sign civilisation which you showed with your guns/granades. They are still surviving with the simplest way of earning without anybody’s assistance. Give them an option to live or die. Remember again, it is their birth right!!