Life after ambush: Ever since attack, people have fled in hundreds
Tucked in between dense gurgles and undulating hillocks, Paraolon is now almost a ghost village.
Chandel (Manipur), Jun 15 : The spell of staccato of fire is still in the air; on June 4 just at stone throw distance from this remote village in Manipur’s Chandel district, a joint action unit of militants groups from the North-East ambushed troopers from 6 Dogra regiment who were passing their village as a part of their de-induction.
The attack left 18 Indian Army Jawans dead. The Army claims to have carried out at at least two clinical strikes and inflicted significant casualities.
Now what remain in Paraolon is a heavily armed security picket, domestic animals loitering around without food and with no signs of the local villagers. Ever since the attack they have fled in hundreds, Ten days have elapsed, yet not a single person has returned back to the village.
When journalists reached them on Sunday, some 30 km away in Ralringkhu village near Chandel town, they rubbished government and security agencies claims that confidence building measures are being taken in the border villages on the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur. Paraolon villagers have raised serious security concerns and not a single villager have gone back to their village, since they apprehend’ threat to their lives.
“You have been the first media to find us out. We have been watching in TV so many new things about the militants and the Army counter attack, but no one is bothering about us. We fled in one cloth. Infact most of the villagers were in Chandel owing to the June 1 ADC polls. We had to cast our vote since there was an independent candidate from our village. While over 200 people were in Chandel, only 10 remained in the village when the attach took place. They came here the next day.
We have tried to reach out to the government asking for more security but to our dismay the government did not sent any official to us. The Army and the Assam Rifles never came. Even media went on reporting that we have started moving back, while the reality is that we are in deep fear and apprehend fresh attacks,” said village chief of Paraolon ADC village James Dilbung.
Officially Paraolon has a population of 412 people, but at any given time only 200 odd people live there since oters remains out of the village in search of work and education. Inhabited by the Lamkang Naga tribe, the village has very basic infrastructure. It takes them sometimes two hours to reach the district headquarter in Chandel town, electricity is almost never available and the village Public Healthcare centre (PHC) only has one nurse assigned who comes only once or twice a year.
The village is dependent on Jhum (shifting cultivation), cutting firewood from the forest and fishing for a living.
Paraolon is the last Naga inhabited village near the Indo-Myanmar border, the border being about 25 Km away. After Paraolon, the village till the international border is dominated by the Kuki tribe. In fact this is not the first time Paraolon has seen violence.
“On April 15, 1993, during the Kuki-Naga ethnic clashes, our village was attacked by suspected Kuki militants. The entire village was torched, 5 people died in that attack. At that time the Manipur government did not help us, this time around the government even does not bother where we are,” says village elder S K Larsing, Many, who lost their houses in 1993, have once again been forced to take shelter in other villages and they fear more attack.