MY DRIVE THROUGH THE NAXALITES PROTEST
After completing the precarious driving in Myanmar finally I had reached to my motherland and entered in Moreh, Manipur. It was a moment of sigh and relief that finally I have reached India. I was in touch with our dear family friend Mr Sahgal (DIG) and
the army officials before entering in to India as they were planning my safe and secure transit through the state of Manipur. Due to the amount of publicity I had gathered before reaching to India both police and the army wanted to keep my arrival and transit as safe and as low profile as they could. As usual my enthusiasm and confidence level was very high but I was completely unaware of what lies on the road for me.
I must say that the Indian leg was surprisingly the most exciting and adventurous part of my journey but indeed was scary at a times. It seems like destiny was always trying to fill my journey with unexpected challenges and thrilling experiences hence this wasn’t an exception to it. To my bad luck or to my good luck in zest of challenges the day I chose to travel to Imphal was the day when Indian army’s one of the chief was visiting Moreh border area. This erupted a big protest in this region, which is heavily infiltrated by Naxalites.
The initial journey was uneventful and I was feeling very relaxed when suddenly with a halt the car I was following stopped. This was the car of Mr Amit who was chosen to escort my car by the Indian army. Thanks to Colonel Mr Manoj at Moreh and and Mr Soham Roy, the ex-lieutenant colonel of Indian army who had organized a local escort for me to escort me safely to Imphal. Amitji was also accompanied by an army officer in civil dress. Amitji was a local person who spoke local dialects and new exactly how to negotiate with them.
After a sudden halt my car started progressing slowly as I looked around. I was horrified as I had not seen something like this before. The protestors were burning tyres, and walking around with sticks and stone, with many in covered faces, only eyes visible. Needless to say that some of them were well equipped. Since this was a hilly region many of the protestors were at different levels of hills including seating on tree branches etc. I was literally remembering the god and slowly progressing through that patch following Amit ji’s vehilce. After passing through sections of small gatherings of protestors and passing the vehicles, which were stopped due to the protest, Mr Amit once again stopped at one place away from the burning section. I also stopped right behind Amit ji’s vehicle. The section looked blocked. Amit ji remained in vehicle without any movement. This was raising my pulse rate and my anxiety to extreme level. My sixth sense was telling me that there is something dangerous around. Suddenly bunch of guys walked pass Amit ji’s vehicle then my vehicle. They looked at me with curiosity, possibly wondering what this woman is doing on the road alone in the car. Few more guys walked pass our vehicles with curiosity, and to add to my fear some of them looked very drunk. I knew one thing that in this situation I have to keep myself calm, composed, keep my nerves down and look straight.
It was not possible to move anywhere now as the roads were blocked. I was scared sitting in my vehicle shivering with nowhere to go, watching the protesters passing by my car with many of them carrying sticks and stones in their hands!
I thought to myself, what will I have to endure and for how long. What would happen next? would they burn my vehicle? would they harm me in any ways? So many thought were running through my mind. As I was anxiously waiting another bunch of guys came there who went to Amit ji first and spoke with him. They then came to my car and started peeping in to my car with curiosity. I knew that I had to stay calm even though I was very scared. The mob went back to Amitji and spoke to him once again. I saw Amit ji getting out of his car speaking to a gentleman with a covered face. This was the leader, as Amit ji explained to me later in that evening. Amit ji, being trusted person by Indian military for his negotiation skills with locals, he then negotiated with the leader to allow me to proceed safely through their protest and through that area. After a long wait, Amit ji came to me. He said we must move now and I must follow his car quietly without stopping on anyone’s instruction or blowing horn for any reason. He said in case if someone stops me then I should straight away call him and he will return back. He reassured me that he would continue to monitor my vehicle and I should try to keep my vehicle close to him at all times. I gathered that Amit ji had negotiated with the protesters. I was relieved and could not wait to get out of the area.
Later in the evening I asked Amitji how did he manage our exit from the protest where all other vehicles were stopped. He explained that he told the leader that this lady is NRI and unconnected with any government. We might have internal differences but why would we send our sister with bad memories, and cause damage to the reputation of our country in foreign counties. If she is any trouble, then perhaps this would involve media and the foreign government. He said he also explained to the leader that she is here promoting a noble cause “Save Girls, Educate Girls” which unconnected with any government and it is the cause that we are all affected….
The leader seemed a real patriot to our motherland and could not do anything which would lower the image of our motherland in a foreign country. The leader also understood the nobility of my causes, which certainly gave me assurance that my mission could even melt anybody.
When I look back and remember the situation I was in at a time and as I reflect to myself I question myself that what would I have done in such situation without Amit ji? But I have always believed in God sent angels and certainly Amit ji and the Naxalites leader were another my guarding angles, who protected me. Amit ji ensured that I reach Imphal and the CRPF base safely. I run short of words to express my gratitude to the officers of my mother land and people of my motherland who made my drive though number of states very smooth, despite demonetisation……
I didn’t dare to take a photos of the protest but my video camera remained on for the initial period so I have taken few screen shots which are below.