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Landmine Victim Languishes In RIMS For Last One Year, An Indifferent Govt Sums Up Woes Of Teenager

Ngampao Haokip waits for his right leg to be amputated. Image Credit: Sangai Photo

IMPHAL, Jun 9: A teenage boy, a victim of landmine has been languishing without any hope of living a normal life again in a hospital ward in Imphal for over one year without any compensation from the Government.

His left leg and right arm have been amputated and his right leg is set to meet the same fate shortly.

On February 18, 2010, as 17-year-old Ngampao Haokip, accompanied by his colleagues James, Tinneng and Sokholun were coming back from their jhum field, James stepped on a landmine.

The explosion and shrapnel from the mine killed James instantly while the other three sustained critical injuries, recalled Haokip, who is being treated in the Ortho ward of Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal for over one year now, since February 18, 2010.

All the victims are from Lonpi village in Chakpikarong sub-division of Chandel district in Manipur.

The area, especially near the border and in the dense jungle, is infested with underground groups which had planted hundreds of landmines to keep at bay security forces.

The area is strategic in the sense that Myanmar is just across the frontier where they can find sanctuary in the event of the security forces launching an offensive.

The booby traps have claimed several lives of unsuspecting farmers who went about their routine business. This story is also one of tragic ending with or without the background dirge: The death of James on that fateful afternoon tells a telling story of Government’s apathy on the need to clear the deathtraps in the area and elsewhere in the State.

While Tinneng and Sokholun were discharged after two months of treatment, Ngampao Haokip has lost all hope of living a normal life again.

His left leg and right arm have been amputated and he is hopelessly waiting for his right leg to meet the same fate, with the date for having it amputated set on June 25.

Talking to Newmai News Network, Tinkhoneng, mother of Ngampao Haokip said until now not even a dreg of compensation has been forthcoming from the State Government.

She however chose to play down the complete silence and indifference of the Govt, perhaps for fear of coming through as a greedy mother without a shred of compassion for his child: “I am not so much at pain about the failure of the government to compensate us as much as am at pain about the future of my son after I am gone.”

“We are unable on many occasions to even pay for the kitchen rent of Rs five at the hospital let alone footing the escalating bills of treatment at the hospital,” she added.

When other boys his age are going to colleges and dreaming big for the future, Ngampao Haokip sat gawking at the walls of the hospital drawing blank.

The boy himself has lost all hope of getting any short of compensation from the government. “Even if the Govt comes forward to help, what can it possibly provide except few thousand cash,” he said. “I used to anticipate Govt’s assistance before, but now I have given up all hope and have stopped expecting it. I don’t mind now,” is what the teenager said with an air of frustration.

Ngampao’s father is a farmer whose only income from the farm barely meets the expenses at the hospital. The family often depends on the small farm barely enough to provide two piece meal a day.

The family has spent about two lakh for the treatment of Ngampao which was mobilized by selling building materials that they had painstakingly gathered for their house. The family is also in deep debt now, said the mother.

However, in the midst of the dark cloud, a silver lining appeared for the family in the form of his doctor Dr Ibomcha who insists on lessening the burden of the family expenses even if in small tokens. The family said that they are irreplaceably indebted to the doctor for rendering mighty assistance when all doors had closed on them.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network)

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