Manipur: Displaced residents find ways to earn a living

Imphal: The ongoing crisis in Manipur is just days from completing six months, and besides the death toll, the destruction, and the list of those injured, the crisis has also meant that thousands stuck in makeshift camps have been left with no assured income sources. Worryingly, we seem no closer to a solution, which means that there is likely no relief for those looking at a return to the normal.

According to an official report, about 60,000-plus people affected by the violence are currently living in 351 relief camps set up in both valley and hill districts. Some of the displaced were shifted to newly set-up prefabricated houses at Imphal East district’s Sajiwa and Sawombung, Sekmai in Imphal West and Bishnupur district’s Kwakta.

At the Khuman Lampak relief camp in Imphal, at least 198 people (46 households) from Ikou, Dolaithabi and Sadu Yengkhuman are taking shelter.

Most women folks in this relief camp are finding an alternate livelihood to support their families by making colourful foot mats (using old clothes), incense sticks, candles and other decorative items.

AS Muhindro and Bimola, a couple from Sadu Yengkhuman village in Imphal East, are among the nearly 200 people staying at the Khuman Lampak relief camp since July. After violence broke out, the senior citizen couple fled for their safety and took shelter at Naorem Birahari College. Later, they were shifted to the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex hostel relief camp.

When EastMojo visited the relief camp, Bimola, Bala, Memtom and other women were making foot mats after cutting used clothes in pieces. Once completed, some young girls from the relief camp collect the handmade products for sale.

Likewise, Khaidem Kunje, 45, from Ikou, set up a small shop in the same space where his three family members, including a daughter, are taking shelter at the relief camp.

“I was running a small grocery shop back at home as well, but it was burnt when violence hit my village,” he said.

“Even though the government is providing us with food and a place to stay, we don’t have money to buy medicines or even to treat my infection. That’s why I set up this small shop in order to buy medicines,” said Khunje, who currently earns Rs 200-300 per day from his small business.

Kunje has also urged the government not to shift them to another location to facilitate disturbance-free education of their children until they have re-settled in their respective homes once peace is restored in the state.

After the crisis, many displaced students, including Khunje’s daughter, who is studying at class 6, were left without schools. However, with the government’s effort, they got admitted to nearby schools and colleges.

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“My daughter started going to Lamlong Higher Secondary, which is nearby from the relief camp. And if we shifted to another location or pre-fabricated houses, I feel that it may create another problem or disturb their studies again,” said Khunje.

According to the Manipur State Rural Livelihood Mission (MSRLM), an exhibition will be organised in the first or second week of November to sell the products made by IDPs in the relief camps.

Also Read | Manipur CM Biren flags off state’s team of Amrit Kalash Yatra

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