Survivor with 8 bullets, tales of woe continue in relief camps
S. Henlly Phom & Temshinaro
DIMAPUR, JANUARY 7
For the affected victims of the recent outbreak of violence in Karbi Anglong, the first week of the New Year has brought no change not even a faint hope of an end to their agony. With tension continuing since the recent discovery of nine bodies near Chumukedima, their situation continues to be precarious. Anger is palpable in the relief camps at Barpathar under Karbi Anglong district though they are getting used to (or without option) to living at relief camps. Their hope rises and sets with each day’s sun rise and sun set as they wait for normalcy to return. Not surprisingly, the tales of those who fled arson and firing with children and elderly to safer grounds, some losing their loved ones, are tragic
Kegwache Rengma, a 25-year-old male of Khanari village who is temporarily camped at Barpathar High School, Santipur escaped the kiss of death with eight bullets hitting both of his legs.
Talking to Eastern Mirror, he revealed that while trying to flee the village, he was hit by stray bullets but luckily it did not cost his life as he was hit on the leg. Fortunately, his relatives took him to the Bokajan district hospital and to Diphu civil hospital as well from where he was shifted to Guwahati. Here he learnt just how close he had actually been to death. A CT scan revealed that 18 bullets had grazed his legs of which eight were lodged in his legs. The bullets could not be removed immediately at Guwahati hospital owing to the sensitive position of the bullets and will be removed after a period of one month.
With one month medication, his treatment has been taken care of by Rengma students and some organizations. But his family members are worried for the next treatment which will be after one month.
One of his family members lamented that with everyone displaced and without employment, they are worried about how they will finance his next treatment to remove the bullets.
But for the moment, Kegwache is relieved that he is alive and hopeful that when it is time for his operation something will work out.
It’s the first time in a hundred years that Enthangia Rengma is experiencing life in a relief camp. At 100 years, he is the oldest amongst the villagers from Khanari and is now housed in the Barpathar relief camp. He was brought to the camp on January 3 by his family members.
Enthangia says his only son Franshin is now living in Dimapur but has failed to visit him despite the family repeatedly calling him. Ethangia is now looked after by his daughters, brother and his grand children at the relief camp in Barpathar.
The Santipur relief shelters over 200 Rengma Nagas, Nepalese, Adivasis and Kacharis who fled along with the Rengmas when the violence broke out.
A total of five relief camps were opened by the Assam government where security is also being provided. Jongpha relief camp has more than 600 members, Phangcherop more than 100 members, Girls High School Santipur 240 members, L.P. School 110 members and Barpathar High School than 1100 members.
Food is being provided by the state government while cash and kind have been received from various groups and organizations.
The villagers of Jongpha, it was learnt, did not abandon their village during the violence but instead the 60-household village provided and accommodated its neighbouring villagers with ‘Choshenlari’ comprising 20 households.
The villagers said till they are provided adequate security, they will continue to occupy the relief camps. They want police posts established in the areas where the attacks have taken place.
DC of Karbi Angling PK Buragohain, who visited the releif camps along with Commissioner of Revenue and Disaster Management H.N Bora and Public Health Engineer Commissioner Secretary HK Bora, assured the villages that proper security will be provided to all the Rengma villages.
He also stated that decisions to set up 10 permanent police stations has been finalized while six more temporary posts along with the 10 permanent posts will be provided for every Rengma village till the situation comes to normal.
The DC also said the Assam government will pay a sum of Rs 3 lakh to releatives of the victims killed in Assam and will request the Centre for more assistance. He also said the villagers should be alert and report any untoward incidents.
Giving out summary profile on recent extremist violence in Bokajan sub-division, he said 34 villages have been affected out of which 16 belong to the Rengmas and 18 to the Karbis. 810 families and 4054 people have been affected with 130 houses burned down.
When about the security of school-going children and those preparing for HSLC and HSSLC exams, he said school children will be provided books and an appeal has been forwarded to the higher educational authority to extend the dates of exams so that they don’t miss out sitting for their examination. On compensating for the affected houses, he said those houses which were fully damaged will be given Rs 20,000 with additional 3 bundles of GCI sheets and those partially damaged houses will be given Rs 20,000.