Mak­ing a dif­fer­ence

With sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence killing thou­sands of in­no­cent peo­ple in Ma­nipur, In­dia, a char­ity is pledg­ing money and emo­tional sup­port to the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims. Archis­man Dinda re­ports

Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

A char­ity is help­ing the fam­i­lies of in­no­cent vic­tims of sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence in Ma­nipur, In­dia.

One mo­ment Re­bika Akham and a small group of peo­ple were hud­dled in a school dis­cussing ways of tack­ling the vi­o­lence dog­ging their state – Ma­nipur in north­east­ern In­dia. The next, three loud gun­shots rang out as her hus­band was shot dead by rebels less than 50 me­tres away.

“It was such a shock­ing mo­ment. I still have night­mares about it,’’ says Bi­nalak­shmi Nepram, an award-win­ning ac­tivist who was with Re­bika’s group at the time of the tragedy. “We heard the gun­shots, ran to­wards the source of the sound and saw Re­bika’s hus­band, Bud­dhi Moin­ran­them, ly­ing dead.” The 27-year-old had been shot through the chest, says Bi­nalak­shmi.

He had been dragged out of his car work­shop and shot at point-blank range by an un­der­ground group of rebels who wrongly be­lieved he was work­ing for the govern­ment against them.

“I still re­mem­ber his 24-year-old widow Re­bika Akham be­ing shell-shocked to see her hus­band dead,’’ says Bi­nalak­shmi. “While vi­o­lence was not new to our vil­lage, this was the first time I had seen it first-hand.

“The fact that Re­bika be­came a widow al­most in front of my eyes af­fected me

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