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Yumkham Erabot Singh

What He Did: Braved road blockade, providing relief to a besieged Manipur.

For more than a month, Naga student groups had blocked the national highways entering Manipur. Trucks had been stranded, food and essential commodities had vanished from stores, hospitals ran without drugs and fuel pumps went dry. It was then that Yumkham Erabot Singh decided to fight the blockade on the streets.

On May 21, with only 10 security personnel and four PSOs, Manipur’s minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution headed for Jiribam, where hundreds of trucks were waiting. The next day he came home with 290 trucks carrying food, essential commodities, drugs, petrol, diesel and LPG. “How can a state with the presence of more than 38,000 Central security personnel supported by 30,000 state security personnel not guard the highways?” asks the Congress MLA from Wangkhei, who defied his own Cabinet’s decision to open the Guite Road-a road experts said was too long and lacked basic facilities.


Rs 1,200 was the amount people in Manipur paid for an LPG cylinder during the blockade


Deservedly, Erabot was given a hero’s welcome. This act of defiance forced the Government to issue an order to use the NH-53 for ferrying essential items and send the Indian Reserve Battalion forces to escort the trucks. But for Erabot, 70, the job is far from over. “We must get over the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN). All Naga people are not NSCN cadres. People want to live harmoniously in the state and it is my duty is to create such an environment,” says Erabot. He has urged the state chief minister to take concrete steps to address the grievances of the Nagas.


“Erabot did what is expected of a minister though the circumstances catapulted him to a heroic position. It is important that his efforts do not remain symbolic.”

K. Satyajit, Social Worker


The hero of Manipur, however, loves to share his meal with his Hero, a goat he brought from a family at Kanglatombi. The goat was meant for sacrifice but at his request, the family decided otherwise. And it’s not Hero alone who is giving him company. Erabot has 18 cats, three dogs, one monkey and two cows at his residence. Bondu, the monkey, was saved by him from a group of youngsters who were about to have the animal for a feast. “I had a tiger cub which I gave to the state zoological garden. I have learnt a lot from these animals who stay together at my house like a family. I wonder why human beings can’t follow them,” he says. That’s why peace and harmony in Manipur-he fought for its statehood as a member of Samyukta Socialist Party-is at the top of his agenda.

(Courtesy: India Today)

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