Former Manipur chief minister and senior Congress leader Okram Ibobi Singh expressed worry about the future of violent affected children as the MPCC celebrated Children’s Day to commemorate the 134th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of free India on Tuesday.
The violence unfolding in the state since May 3 last has resulted in the displacement of nearly 50,000 people, with over 12,694 of them being children who now call these relief camps home.
A government report that stressed the need for addressing the emotional toll of the conflict also stated that over 100 children were grappling with severe trauma.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of observance of the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru in Imphal’s Congress Bhavan, Ibobi said addressing the emotional toll of the conflict was the need of the hour. He observed that the prolonged confinement in the relief camps after exposure to violence has severely affected the mental health of these children.
He said mental health issue was imminent among these children and that the government must take the issue very seriously.
“Children are the future pillars of the nation. What would be the future of the nation and Manipur in particular when these future pillars are traumatized from now,” he asked.
While appreciating the relief initiatives of the government, he said that the displaced people would like was to return to their native places.
Instead of short term or temporary measures being taken up by the government, it would be more appreciable if the government provides assistance in the construction of permanent houses in their respective places, he said.
Referring to the recently launched Permanent Housing Scheme for the displaced families, the former chief minister asked where the permanent houses are going to be constructed.
“Is it at their original places or at other places provided by the government,” he went on to ask.
Singh said that whenever they visited the displaced people at the relief camps, none of them expressed their desire to settle at other places other than their native places.
He observed that the government’s inability to resolve the crisis even after more than six months since the violence erupted on May 3 last would have a severe impact on people, particularly children.
He stressed the need to find ways to resolve the crisis at the earliest while and that if there was a problem, it is an indispensable task of the government to resolve it.
He however lamented that even after more than six months, both the Centre and the state government were not coming up with a concrete step to bring the parties in conflict to the negotiating table and resolve the crisis.
Reiterating that a concerted effort was the need of the hour, Ibobi said emphasis must be given to resolve the conflict so that displaced people can go back to their original places.
He said the Congress supported various programmes initiated by the government for the welfare of the displaced people staying in the relief camps but would like to suggest that instead of constructing temporary shelter houses for the displaced people, it would be better on the part of the government to take up a long lasting arrangement.
The Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) observed the 134th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru with a simple function at Imphal Congress Bhavan by paying floral tribute to the statue of the first Prime Minister of India erected inside the Congress Bhavan.
Prominent leaders of the Congress including MPCC president K Meghachandra, CLP leader and former chief minister O Ibobi, CWC member Gaikhangam led party members and workers in paying floral tribute.
To mark the celebration of Children’s Day, party leaders and members also visited some relief camps and offered Children’s Day gifts to the children staying there.