A Journalists’ Rendezvous with Tamenglong -3

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Few moments after the fearful incident, the team was all set for the journey further again. Prior to this, I had already met with an incident involving heavy firing at Khangngabok in Thoubal district. At that time, I was working in “Mannaba” newspaper. In that, a fierce gun battle broke out after some armed militants attacked security forces and left the place. In retaliation, security forces fired towards the militants as the latter were spotted running up the hill. As I along with one of my friends rushed at the spot riding in a scooter, some reporters were also seen culling information of the incident. Then we altogether proceeded further to the place for collecting photos after taking permission from Superintendent of Police. Apart from experiencing gun firing, I also encountered numerous incidents where I have heard sound of bullet firing, mock bomb, tear gas etc.

Back to journey, we further started heading towards Noney from Kotlen. Then after having lunch at Noney, the team reached Khongsang.  Afterwards, the vehicle which we were travelling halted at a roadside along the way that leads to Tamenglong Headquarters. It was after members of the team stepped down from the vehicle that I came to know that the purpose of the visit was for road inspection. Like this, in the place the team parted away with the vehicle Bolero of Tajoy and before leaving the place he told to everyone that he would be meeting us again for having dinner at the village where the team was supposed to night hold.  

In the journey of my life, I have come across certain uncanny incidents. For this tour, I took part as of the members without knowing the purpose of the trip. Then from Khongsang, we were compelled to travel by foot. It was not a short distance to cover instead we was supposed to walk up to Barak Bridge from Khongsang itself which is about 45 km long distance. Ironically, at this time people would be enjoying at Beijing City as the Olympic Games was scheduled to start following the next day. While they are in a joyous mood, I was forced to travel through the no man’s land hilly region of Tamenglong district.

The main responsibility of the tour was shouldered by an experience man namely Oja Thomas Kamei. He happened to be a calm and kind-hearted person and was seen always in smiling mood. There, he told to all of us that he would be accompanying the team in accessing the condition of the road and informed that he had kept ready xerox related documents meant for despatching to every members of the team.

Out of fun, looking towards Mungyamba I said, “So this is what you called a very interesting journey”. After hearing my words he laughed out loudly. Seeing at it, everyone also laughed out looking at each other. But there was a strong inner feeling in me that I should experience it and after hanging my bag which I have bring, I was all set for the challenge ahead of the tour. I also putted some drinking water bottles inside the bag. Then, we altogether headed for the long foot journey challenging the bright hot sunlight which held everyone at that time.

The road way which we passed along happened to be named as “Agriculture Road”. After travelling up to 2-3 km, we come across a Buffalo rear farm in the middle of the road with fencing being putted all around. At there, around 10 Buffaloes was seen enjoying freely at the muddy farm.

Buffalo farm in the middle of the road! – After witnessing this, my mind was striving for more unusual and stunning glances along the 45 km journey and thinking this I got a new lease of relief amidst the long and boredom journey.

Notable noticeable things which I come across after heading further along the way were the newly carved roads using Bulldozer, certain area accumulated nearby the road caused by landslide, long grass growing in middle of the road etc. Seeing all this, it stunned me. I also witnessed areas filled almost with water as there was not proper drain facilities avail at the places. Enjoying all this glances, I kept walking along the way. For me, it was the first time that I am experiencing the longest walk ever by foot and considering this I was excited. In between the scenes, Oja Thomas was seen measuring area of the road using inch tape. Enthralled by the places, I started clicking photos by standing at the water filled areas. And, while looking at the place where culverts was supposed to build everyone was having a chit-chat saying that entrusted contractors have swindled large amount of fund by not constructing even a single culvert at the designed places. For this reason, everyone was passing heated statements against the contractors for not fulfilling the assigned tasks. 

Looking at the condition of the road, it seems that there must have heavy shower of rain incessantly over the last one week. As of it, I noticed many muddy places though there are also some dry plain roads. Luckily, that day happened to be a bright sunny day but everyone was reeling under hot sunlight. Usually in hills, temperature used to be in maximum on a broad sunlight day. Due to the hot temperature, my cloths started sweating and everyone was also feeling the same. At that time, Mungyamba was seen without shirt trying to get relief from the high temperature. As I noticed, among the members of the team, Michael (Ireibak) seems to be the most tired colleague at that time. Looking at him, out of fun someone among the members said, “Michael is the lone child so his parent must be keeping him like a sweetheart” and hearing this Michael replied, “Yes. That is true”.

To be continued..

 

Translated by Rakesh Lourembam, Manipur Times.

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