IMPHAL| Feb 9: After the recent bomb blast at the Taoseng side of Leishok village under Noney district, where two sisters were killed while working on a jhum cultivation while helping their mother, another unexploded bomb was discovered today at a spot not far away from the site.
With the discovery of another live bomb at the area, the residents from the surrounding areas of Leishok village are now afraid of working at the jhum cultivation and appealed the authorities concerned to sanitise the area and defuse the live bombs.
In 2015, the Gorkha Regiment, which used to guard the villages surrounding Leishok village, such as Taoseng side, Khoupum side, L. Kholen side, Chongang side, Thanggapat side, kept the villagers indoors for three consecutive days and reportedly fired more than 200 shells (bombs) towards the site as it was suspected that camp of Zeliangrong United Front (ZUF) was holding up there.
The villagers expressed to media persons that while some of the fired shells (bombs) exploded some failed to explode upon hitting the ground. Since the villagers were not aware of the specific locations where the shells landed, they had started jhum cultivation as their livelihood depends on it.
In 2018, a live shell exploded killing two persons and injuring another three who are still receiving treatments while most recently, another bomb exploded on February 1 claiming the life of two girls who are siblings.
There are a total of 63 households and a total population of more than 600 settling in the villages surrounding Leishok village under Noney district. These villages have been existent for the last more than 200 years and their primary source of income if farming of U Morok (King Chilly), pumpkin and banana plantations. The children of the village are sent to schools at Khoupum village which is located nearby. Due to bad road connectivity, the parents are keeping their children at the boarding of Don Bosco School in Khoupum and work hard at the jhum cultivation so that they may support to their children.
The condition of the roadway, which would take a traveller more than three hours to cover a distance of 11 kilometres, exists in an extremely deplorable condition even in the dry season and vehicles have to travel at their own risks.
The trouble villagers are facing now is the cutting of their means to earn a livelihood, such as jhum cultivation and farming of other vegetables with the recent finding of bomb shells and they question which they ask themselves everyday is whether the authorities concerned help remove their troubles.
Since unexploded shells are found everywhere, no matter which direction they try to work, they are now afraid to go into the fields and expressed the need for the bombs to be urgently diffused.
Though the government has given its assurance to provide compensation and extend help to the family of the deceased siblings, the villagers are now facing worse situations as their means of income is left in the lurch.
On the other hand, general secretary, WAD, Mangsatabm Sobita, who took part in the visit today, said, “We have come to know that there are plenty of unexploded shells lying around at many spots at Leishok village after being reported by the villagers.”
The fire or throw bombs continuously for three days is an act of human rights violation, she said. The innocent villagers, who had been working hard, are not only living in fear but facing most critical conditions as their children have become victims, she further said. If the government does not take up urgent measures to defuse these live bombs, the villagers would be facing extreme difficulties as their economy is affected by it, she added. .
It may be mentioned that the two girl siblings, Akhiuna Kamei,17, and Gaikhonlien Kamei,15, had been studying in class 10 and 6 respectively by staying at the boarding of Don Bosco Khoupum before both were killed by the unfortunate incident of bomb explosion on February 1.
Both were staying home for winter vacation and on the unfortunate day, they followed their mother Duanthaomei to help her out in cultivating the fields at around 8 am in the morning. Around 11 am after taking a break and having a light meal, as Akhuina Kamei went down to work with a tool, the bomb exploded suddenly killing her at the spot while critically injuring her younger sister Gaikhonlien Kamei. She succumbed to her injuries while attempting to take her to a Doctor.
The villagers are of the suspicion that the bombs may have been thrown in the name of counter insurgency with a scheme to drive them away from the villages.