Why a 65-year-old Mizo farmer is walking from Aizawl to Imphal
Mizo farmer, Lalbiakthanga

Lalbiakthanga, a farmer, says he does not have much knowledge to boast of but has a heart filled with a passion for peace and unity. Ever since he came to know of the issues raging in Manipur, the 65-year-old could not sleep nor eat, the news of the violent clashes troubled his heart and he decided that it was time for him to act by walking on foot from Aizawl to Imphal.

“I am not very strong, I dread this walk but I am filled with passion. Sometimes I wonder why a 65-year-old man like me has a passion to do this, it should be done by someone with a stronger body. I don’t even know if my family supports me because I did not tell them; if I tell them I am afraid they will stop me, so I just set out without telling anyone,” he told EastMojo.

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It would have to take a brave heart to walk 383 kilometres on foot in the soaring heat. And it would take a lot of courage to tread into another state when Lalbiakthanga can only speak his mother tongue. But no obstacles can hold him back, as his determination for unity precedes the unfavourable circumstances. With a backpack carrying an extra shirt, pants and a small tiffin, he holds a white flag in his right hand with the words ‘Peace for Manipur’ and a hand reaching out to hold another hand.

Mind you, this is not the first time Lalbiakthanga is doing something this audacious. Previously, he took up a Peace March to extend solidarity to the people of Myanmar in the midst of the coup in 2021 and also last year to mark India’s 75th year of Independence. In 1997, he travelled to at least 50 rural villages and spread a message on environmental awareness.

On why he is concerned for Manipur, he said, “If we do not resolve the issue raging in Manipur soon, it will reach other states. It is not a simple matter that can be ignored. Like how we light a small match and it sets a fire ablaze, this issue between different ethnicities can have serious repercussions. We may have gold and wealth, but if we do not have peace and harmony, then it is of no use. Every person in their own way has to take heed in this matter, those who like to pray can pray, those who can contribute money should do it, those who can write about it should do it, we all have to strive together for peace and harmony, this is the need of the hour.”

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Lalbiakthanga’s peace march was kicked off in front of Vanapa Hall at 7 am on Wednesday, May 10. There were no huge crowds to wave him off, no cameras lined up. Two officials of the Mizoram Journalist Association waved him off with a short speech while he stood next to them with a traditional straw bamboo hat and his head low and humble.

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When asked if he believes his solitary peace march will have a positive impact, Lalbiakthanga responded saying, “I do not know specifically but I hope I can revive people’s hearts for peace.”

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