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Sep 05, 2011 at 05:44pm IST

Real Heroes: Bina helps militancy scarred widows

Imphal: Manipur's Binalaxmi Nepram, who's seen how militancy has permanently scarred women in her state, has set up the Manipur Women Gun Survivours Network for widows who have lost their husbands in the ongoing conflict in the state.

More than 20,000 people have lost their lives in the killing fields of Manipur in the last five decades and every year more than three hundred widows are created because of the ongoing conflict in Manipur. Everyday three to four Manipuris are shot dead and most of them are young men between the age group of 19-40 leaving behind young mothers and their small children.

Binalaxmi's group helps these women cope with their grief.

One such widow is Nutan who was married for just two years. She was left widowed with a newborn child when one day her husband vanished.

"My husband left that day to go meet his mother in the market and he hasn't returned since then. I have been waiting for his return. His mother also came looking for him that day. We looked for that day and the nect day but could not find him," Nutan said.

Nutan added, "There is this woman in our colony who is a commando officer's sister, she asked her brother about my husband and he said to go to the mortuary. When we went there, we found his dead body just lying there."

After Bina heard other such stories she decided that compensation was just not enough.

"When I started meeting women and listen to their testimony and stories that how a woman lost 2 sons in one day, a women who lost 3 members of her family in a conflict, I knew that this is not fair to them to just forget and about the compensation from the government it is just not enough. Nobody is even bothered about how these women get on with their lives," Bina said.

So Bina chalked out a strategy. She went from village to village, opened bank accounts and gave these women interest free loans and financial aid up to Rs 9000.

Today these women earn a living by making incense sticks, weaving cloth or rearing fish. Each one of them has become self sufficient.

Working with 80 women in four districts of Manipur, Bina gets most of her funding from donations and her research work with Control Arms Foundation of India.

The guns haven't stopped blazing in Manipur and Bina knows that there are many more women who need her help across the state.

Bina said, "this is the fire of change that can really help the situation in the state. This is not a cliche as I speak this is not a cliche. This is what I have felt and this what I know that we can transform the villages and states in this country."

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