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Bullets, Guns and Books: Meet this 19-year-old aspiring footballer who is preparing his board exams from a makeshift bunker

Bullets, Guns and Books: Meet this 19-year-old aspiring footballer who is preparing his board exams from a makeshift bunker

19-year-old Seikochon Haokip, of Gunphai village in the Kangpokpi district of Manipur, is preparing for his 12th-grade exams in a makeshift bunker.

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Meet this 19-year-old aspiring footballer who is preparing his board exams from a makeshift bunker Meet this 19-year-old aspiring footballer who is preparing his board exams from a makeshift bunker

19-year-old Seikochon Haokip, of Gunphai village in the Kangpokpi district of Manipur, is preparing for his 12th-grade exams in a makeshift bunker. 

He hopes to play football and represent India internationally. 

He stands in front of his duty post in Phaileng Mol post. Seikochon, who is also preparing for his board exams, keeps a single-barrel gun beside his books as a constant reminder of his primary duty. 

Amidst the challenges, he remains hopeful for an end to the violence affecting Manipur, as he told India TodayNE.

Seikochon is not fighting this battle alone. Seikochon stated that in addition to fighting on the front lines, about sixty other students are getting ready for the board exams. Quite upbeat about his goals, Seikochon continues further that his aspirations and goals can never come before his duty to protect his people in the ongoing violence while stationed inside a bunker, protecting his land from the frontline. 

Despite the situation not being overly tense, Seikochon emphasises the importance of their duty to protect their people. Simultaneously, he and several other students are preparing for their exams from bunkers. 

A 19-year-old football enthusiast, fondly recalls his childhood days with his friends from the Meitei community. The young lad lost contact with his friends following the violent events that transpired on May 3, 2023. Despite the circumstances, he remains hopeful of reuniting with his old companions. He reminisced about his high school days, 'I had five friends from the Meitei community. We studied together from class 3 to class 10. Robert and Elvis were some of my friends whose names I remember.' He expressed that he missed them and had kept in touch through Facebook. However, following the violent incidents, they lost contact. Seichon shared these sentiments in a subdued tone while speaking to IndiatodayNE.

Seikochon, a young Indian, has publicly shared his wish for an end to violence, stating that it hinders his ability to focus on his dreams. He expressed his ambition to become a footballer and make his parents proud. Amidst ongoing unrest, he voiced concerns about potentially losing his land if he were to leave. He stressed the importance of having a place to return to once the violence ceases. Despite the turmoil, Seikochon remains hopeful of achieving his dreams, returning home, and contributing to India's pride as a footballer. Seikochon's home is located 3-4 kms away from his bunker and he reports being able to hear gunfire during incidents of violence.

Also Read: Manipur sees dip in number of students appearing for class 12 board exams

The ongoing conflict in Manipur continues to cause distress among students preparing for their Class 10 and 12 board exams, which started on February 21. The situation is particularly challenging for those displaced by the ethnic clash between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities.

Living in relief camps under the constant threat of violence, with limited resources, has heightened the anxiety of these students. The conflict, which broke out in May 2023, dealt a significant blow to the state's education system, with schools remaining closed for prolonged periods. Consequently, students lost a significant portion of their academic year and had to self-study.

The government's recent statistics reveal the devastating effects of violence on young lives. This year, 38,127 students are set to appear for the Class 10 board exams. This number is composed of 28,477 students from private schools, 8,130 from government schools, and 1,520 from aided schools. The Board of Secondary Education, Manipur (BSEM), reported a decrease of 1,637 students compared to the 2022-23 Class 10 board exams. For the Class 12 board exams, a total of 28,000 students will take the tests, marking the end of their school education.

The unending violence has not just affected the displaced students, it weighs heavily on all those belonging to the Kuki-Zo communities, spread across the hill areas. The disturbance of civil life has made it hard for students to focus on preparing for the upcoming examinations.

On May 3, 2023, ethnic violence led to a mass displacement of students from the afflicted regions to safer areas. Unfortunately, many students lost their crucial documents amid the chaos, further exacerbating their difficulties. This issue is particularly significant for those students who are scheduled to take their board exams in 2024, as they now face challenges in seeking admission in schools and colleges.

Edited By: Atiqul Habib
Published On: Feb 22, 2024