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Tale of a woman’s bravery lost in penury

- Lalzadingi, who killed the tiger now housed in the museum, struggles to get benefits she is entitled to
A boy poses in front of the mummified tiger at the Mizoram state museum,Lalzadingi. Pictures by Zodin Sanga

Aizawl, Feb. 28: A mummified tiger with its fiery eyes fixed on visitors has been the centre of attraction at the Mizoram state museum for the past week.

“The tiger has always caught the attention of visitors, mostly children. This time too it has stolen the show,” said a museum official.

But the person who contributed the tiger to the museum, seems to have gone out of public memory. Lalzadingi, then 27 and a mother of two, had killed the tiger, which was terrorising her neighbours and nearby villages, with an axe on July 3, 1978.

“I was splitting firewood when I heard an unusual sound behind a nearby bush. I thought it might be a wild boar. I called my friends in a hushed voice but no one seemed to hear me,” she recollects.

Fear gripped Lalzadingi when a full-grown tiger suddenly appeared from behind the bush. “The tiger approached me. I did not have time to think. I raised my axe and hit the animal on its forehead. I was lucky the tiger died in one blow. Had I hit on another part of its body, the tiger would not have given me a second chance,” she said.

Lalzadingi said she only had the safety of her children in mind. “My two little kids, the younger just three months old, came to my mind as the tiger approached me. I did not have a choice. I had to kill it before it killed me.”

After the tiger was killed, she learnt that her friends dared not come near her as they were shaking in fear after hearing the tiger.

Lalzadingi is currently fighting to receive her monthly benefits under Shaurya Chakra, which she was awarded for her bravery in 1980 by the Indian government. She received the award from then President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy in New Delhi.

The monetary assistance was Rs 40 per month in the initial years. It was increased from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000 last year but she is yet to receive the increments. “I stopped receiving the money after it was increased. I have been informed it is under process and hope to get it soon,” Lalzadingi said at her home in Buarpui village.

Buarpui, where Lalzadingi lives with her husband, four kids and grandchildren, is in Lunglei district of southern Mizoram and about 95km from here.

Besides the mummified tiger, the museum houses about 2,500 items that reflect the cultural heritage, rich history and the ethnic background of Mizoram. The museum attracts a large number of visitors, mostly schoolchildren, during Museum Week, which concluded today. Entry during the event is free.


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