The guns

Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

se­ri­ously. I wanted to do some­thing to help her. But I knew if I re­ally wanted to trans­form lives, this could only be a start­ing point.

“If we are to change sit­u­a­tions like this, we have to en­sure that the vic­tims are never hun­gry, that they have some money to save for their fu­ture and to ed­u­cate their chil­dren. This is the only way to trans­form so­ci­ety in the face of con­stant vi­o­lence.”

The tools to earn

As well as com­fort­ing Re­bika, Bi­nalak­shmi or­gan­ised a col­lec­tion drive and raised Rs4,500 (Dh280), with which she bought a sewing ma­chine for the dis­traught widow.

Re­bika had a daugh­ter and knew how to sew, so with the ma­chine she could earn a liv­ing to sup­port her fam­ily.

De­ter­mined to do some­thing for thou­sands of women like Re­bika, Bi­nalak­shmi, 36, de­cided to set up a sup­port sys­tem to help peo­ple af­fected by the vi­o­lence to re­build their lives. The re­sult is the Ma­nipurWomen Gun Sur­vivors Net­work (MWGSN), a char­ity that helps the fam­i­lies of those killed by the vi­o­lence in Ma­nipur.

In­sur­gency and mil­i­tant ac­tiv­ity erupted in Ma­nipur af­ter In­dia be­came in­de­pen­dent in 1947. A princely state at the time, Ma­nipur was in­vited to join In­dia, and while the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple were in favour, some groups wanted to re­main sep­a­rate and in­de­pen­dent.

Once the state be­came part of In­dia, the groups launched large-scale in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions to desta­bilise it which, ac­cord­ing to some re­ports, have claimed the lives of over 20,000 peo­ple in­clud­ing po­lice and mil­i­tary per­son­nel in the past six decades.

The In­dian govern­ment’s move to de­ploy a large num­ber of armed forces to tackle the is­sue has also led to anger among some peo­ple who feel their voice is be­ing sup­pressed. Even to­day

Bi­nalak­shmi Nepram runs a char­ity that helps peo­ple af­fected by the vi­o­lence in her home state of Ma­nipur, In­dia

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