As Manipur Sees Dark Times, Babies Born In Relief Camps Are Shining Lights

24-year-old Amom Priyolata has named her newborn daughter Nganthoibi – shining light.


In violence-hit Manipur, life has been challenging for those who have been displaced from their homes and are living in relief camps, more so for pregnant women, who have been uprooted from their homes at a critical juncture of their lives.  At a relief camp being run for such women in Imphal’s Khuman Lampak area, however, the violence and all its attendant problems take a backseat when the new mothers see the smiles of their newborn babies. 

Nine days ago, 24-year-old Amom Priyolata gave birth to a girl and named her Nganthoibi – shining light. Sugnu in Kakching district, where Ms Priyolata lived with her husband, witnessed some of the worst violence when trouble began in May. 

For these women, going back to their villages is a long time away. In the meantime, they are looking to rebuild their lives in the prefabricated homes the government is building for them.

“There was a lot of violence initially and we came here to the relief camp and are staying together. Now I have had my child and I am happy,” said Ms Priyolata. 

Her husband, Wangkhem Lanchenba, said, “My wife was pregnant when violence broke out in Manipur. I thought there would be problems with her delivery, but we came here, got help and Nganthoibi was born without any problems.”

Since the violence began, the camp has seen the birth of nine boys and seven girls. Rajkumar Nongdrenkhomba Meitei, president of the BJP OBC Morcha, which is running the camp, said, “There are 57 women here at the camp and 16 of them have delivered children. The state BJP president was visiting different relief camps when she saw the problems of pregnant women and that is why we have started this camp.” 

State BJP president Sarada Devi said, “Young mothers, especially first-time mothers are comfortable with older ladies around for guidance.”

Nearly 120 people have lost their lives and over 3,000 have been injured in the violence in Manipur, which began on May 3 when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status. 

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will visit the state tomorrow. 


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