It is a disaster not seen earlier here The anonymous heroes
It is a disaster. Note the stress on the present tense. It is and will continue to haunt the collective psyche of the people for times to come. Even as this observation is being written down, search operation is still on to trace those who have been buried under the avalanche, when half a mountain or hill broke down and swept away everything on its way including the camp which housed personnel of the Territorial Army, some railway staff and some civilians who had set up shop near the camp to help them earn a living or supplement the family’s income. This is perhaps the first time that Manipur has seen a tragedy of such a magnitude and as in all stories and tales of tragedies, unlikely heroes have emerged-people whose selflessness and the conviction to help fellow human beings in distress or trouble can be written in bold-against the eerie background of death. So far at least 20 lifeless bodies have been recovered from the debris with many more, at least 50, still reported missing. As news of the devastating landslide spread like wildfire, the Government acted swiftly and rushed in personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Assam Rifles and the Army besides the district administration of Noney district. Clips of the rescue or retrieval operation went viral on the social media and in no time latest updates on the tragedy appeared on Whatsapp, Facebook and other social media sites. Even as personnel from NDRF, SDRF, Assam Rifles, Army and the district administration plunged into the rescue and retrieval operation, there appeared the anonymous, unlikely heroes, who also chipped in with whatever they had, digging into the earth and scouring Ijei river, not only looking out for survivors but also helping in retrieving the lifeless bodies, and there were many. If anything stood out, it is this selfless deeds and heroism which is should be noted. The innate goodness of mankind and heroism coming to the fore, is a line which may aptly describe the selfless acts of the anonymous heroes, the common man and woman. Manipur too demonstrated that the victims are not alone in their times of despair and helplessness and one hopes and pray that the selfless act of goodness gives some sense of hope and encouragement to the bereaved families.
The Noney or Marangching Part 5 tragedy has obviously left everyone, not only in Manipur, but also across the country in a state of shock and disbelief. Here is a camp of the Territorial Army sleeping peacefully into the night when half a mountain or a hillside suddenly broke away and descended downhill taking everything along with it into Ijei river which flows through Noney district. The words of prayer from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the swift response of Chief Minister N Biren in rushing to the tragedy site and announcing an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for those who died in the tragedy, the words of solidarity from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi all go to prove that despite differences, mankind can and should bond together in the face of any adversity. It may take some time for the full impact of the tragedy to dawn on the consciousness of the people, but for those who were fortunate enough to have survived the landslide, the night of June 30, 2022 can be a recurring nightmare. It is this which the Government and mental health professionals should be ready to deal with. A tragedy it is and everything indicates that the story will continue to run for some more days even as the exercise to retrieve the remains of the others believed to be still trapped under the debris continues. Nature sure can deal a tragic hand and perhaps this is also the opportune moment for all to better understand the call to leave the hills covered with trees and the natural undergrowths. The Sangai Express joins in condoling the bereaved families and pray that the Almighty gives them the strength to cope with the loss.