Survivor’s story of Kwakta Bomb Blast: Six surgeries done, five more to go

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Safiur Rahaman Maibam

Imphal: Fifteen-year-old Singamayum Albash Khan’s life took a tragic turn on June 21, 2023, when a bomb blast rocked the bridge connecting Kwakta and Phoubakchao Ikhai in Manipur’s Bishnupur district, striking him around 7:00 pm. This horrifying incident left him with severe injuries that continue to require extensive medical attention. Albash has already undergone six different operations on various parts of his body, with five more surgeries still looming on the horizon.

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Singamayum Albash Khan, the eldest son of Ibela Singamayum, has been raised by his single mother, who courageously shoulders the responsibilities of the family since his father’s passing. They reside in a rented house in Kwakta Municipal Ward Number 7, along with Albash’s three siblings. Before the eruption of ethnic violence in the region, his mother worked as a vegetable vendor, tirelessly supporting her children. She shared, “I used to work as a vegetable vendor in Churachanpur, managing our family’s livelihood single-handedly. However, due to the violence, I was forced to discontinue my work.” The conflict’s fallout made it increasingly difficult for her to make ends meet, pushing Albash Khan to travel to Imphal in search of daily wage labour to provide for his family’s needs.

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On June 21, Albash Khan returned home from Imphal, eager to spend the Eid festival with his family. His journey involved taking a passenger vehicle to Kwakta Bazar and then walking the rest of the way home. Tragically, the bomb blast struck, causing him severe injuries. He recalled, “I had returned home with hopes of celebrating the Eid festival withmy family when the bomb blast suddenly occurred, and I was injured. I don’t remember much after that.”

Initially, Albash was admitted to Raj Medicity Hospital in Imphal but was later referred to AIIMS Delhi for more extensive treatment. After undergoing six surgeries, he has been discharged and now stays with his maternal uncle in Kwakta Gram Panchayat Ward Number 1. His uncle, Abdul Hakim, shared, “Doctors have informed us that Albash Khan requires five more surgeries, and I’m pleased to say that his eyesight has been restored after the operation at AIIMS Delhi.” He also mentioned that they received assistance from Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind and went to Delhi for further treatment on August 16. While they have received approximately ninety thousand in donations from well-wishers, the family has borne the substantial burden of around two lakhs eighty thousand for Albash’s medical expenses. Raj Medicity initially shouldered the responsibility for his treatment.

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Regrettably, there has been no financial aid forthcoming from the government, as Singamayum Albash Khan’s maternal uncle pointed out, saying, “The government does not provide us with financial assistance. We desperately need more funds for the child’s ongoing treatment. We also yearn for peace. The ongoing crisis has severely affected our ability to earn a livelihood. The government must urgently resolve the conflict; this ongoing violence persists due to a lack of commitment.”

Singamayum Albash Khan’s family continues to endure the physical and emotional toll of the injuries inflicted upon them, yearning for justice and relief. Their story serves as a stark reminder of the enduring impact of conflicts on innocent lives.

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