Asian Games ready? Manipur Judoka Shushila Devi is running relief camp 
Manipur Judoka Shushila Devi

Guwahati: Manipur has always been India’s sporting powerhouse and at the upcoming Asian Games, Manipur was sure to be India’s pride given its rich sporting history. One of the strongest hopes for India should be Shushila Devi Likmabam, the two-time Commonwealth Games medalist and one of India’s best hopes for a medal. 

Instead, she is carrying out rescue operations in the wake of the worst violence her state has seen in recent memory. 

Shushila, who returned with a silver from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games last year, is stuck in her native village, Heingang Mayai Leikai in Imphal East, and is involved in a relief camp sheltering around 800 displaced people.

Describing the situation back in Manipur, Shushila said her aunt, along with her three children, had to relocate to her place for safety after their ancestral home was torched during the ethnic clashes.

Situation bahut bura hai, ladai chalu hai... (The situation here is very frightening, the infighting is still very much on). Imphal is relatively safer than the rest of the state, and the displaced people are preferring it for relocation. As many as 800 people have moved to the relief camp in our village,” she told EastMojo.

“Even my aunt’s house in a neighbouring village was torched, leaving them homeless. They are a family of six, including three children, whom we rescued yesterday, and are now staying with us,” she further said.

“There are many pregnant women among the displaced, and many have even delivered in the relief camps. Hundreds are sleeping in one hall with one fan. We are doing our best to help them survive till we can, but one day we will be run out of stock,” added Shushila, the lone Indian judoka at the Tokyo Olympics.

Training not even on mind

The 28-year-old athlete suffered an injury on her left knee during her silver-medal-winning campaign in Birmingham, following which she returned to her native place for rehabilitation after taking a break from her training centre at the Inspire Institute of Sport in Bellary, Karnataka. 

But the sudden turn of events resulting in ethnic clashes has ended her rehab and training plans.

“In this situation, how can one even think of training? The situation is so bad that there’s no time to think about training. So many athletes from the state have qualified for the Asian Games, but there has been no training for the past month. Even today, there was curfew the whole day,” she narrated.

“When the situation tends to normalise, miscreants disrupt it, and the trend has been going on for several weeks now. We want peace and harmony among all communities,” she said.

Shushila said the prices of essential commodities, including prices of food grains and dairy products, have skyrocketed in the past month due to the ongoing clashes.

The Asian Games are scheduled to run from September 23 to October 8, but the Arjuna awardee feels she isn’t prepared for the quadrennial event.

“I don’t think I will be able to take part in the Asian Games. The national camp is starting on June 3, but I don’t think I can attend it although my name is included in the list,” she lamented.

“I have recovered from the injury but due to lack of practice and training, I won’t be able to make it to the camp. All training centres in Manipur are closed and there’s no facility to train,” she said, adding that owing to the ongoing situation strife and violence, it is difficult to even think or focus on sports when thousands of people are suffering.

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40 trainees of Sarita Devi’s academy left homeless

Shushila informed that the ongoing violence in Manipur has also left 40 trainees at the Sarita Regional Boxing Academy homeless.

“There are around 80 trainees at Sarita Devi’s academy, and out of those, around 40 kids have lost their homes, as a result of which they have been left stranded. It is difficult on her part but there’s no other option, the kids are at least safe in the academy,” she said.

Also Read: A friendly pitch: How cricket found a home in Mizoram

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