Manipur has had an umbilical connection with insurgency,but the starry-eyed children here dare to dream of a change that would ensure a bright future for them and the generations to come .
Their hopes and aspirations are being supported by the Army officers here,who have been making efforts for the past few years to alienate local people from insurgents.
Pushparani Devi wants to be actor,quite like her neighbor Ranjita,aspires to be singer ,but the two teenaged girls harbour a fear that they might be pushed into the vortex of Manipur’s armed conflicts.
Pushparani’s friend, in making preparations to become an army officer and join the forces to dispel their anxieties and restore peace in the state.
Major General VK Mishra,GOC. 57 Mountain Division of the Army officers here,who have been making efforts for the past few years to alienate local people from insurgents.
“That we are reaching out to them,helping them to join mainstream only goes on to show that the insurgents are no longer able to influence them,”he said.
Major General Mishra said ,”People have started approaching the forces for education assistance and vocational training“.
A few years ago, it was difficult to find children for such training programmes, but now they are reposing faith in the Indian Army.
One such example includes Md Edrish, an athlete from a village in Bishnupur district, said he won a bronze medal representing Manipur in the national U-18 athletics in Patna this year.He is currently training at the SAI facility in Imphal.
Md Edrish,is an athelete who runs 800 metres,1500 metres and 3,000 metres.As staed by him,”I want to represent the country in the Asian Games”.
Major General Mishra noted that the demand for joining the forces have increased over the years.
“There are 24 children at present at ‘Disha’,studying in classes 5 to 12 at Army Kendra Vidyalaya. They also given private tuitions. Of the 24 inmates at the neatly maintained hostel, 10 do not have parents,” an officer of 57 Mountain Division ,also known as ‘Red Shields’ division said.
One of the farmer residents at Disha is now a engineer,another studying MBBS in Delhi,and seven have joined the Army, an administrator at the hostel told a visiting group of journalists recently.
Assam Rifles is also providing pre-recruitment educational training to 16 boys,who would appear for a written test,having cleared physical and medical exams.
“We are tapping them to get them to follow the right path.The relatives of some of these students are insurgents,”said the officer.
The boys also prepare for police forces and other related jobs.