The Telegraph
Monday , February 3 , 2014
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History of Manipur through the lens

- Photojournalist puts up solo exhibition

Imphal, Feb. 2: The last four decades have been crucial in the history of Manipur, when it attained statehood.

These years brought with it hopes of development, which were later dashed by corruption, militancy, social unrest and triggered by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

All these momentous events, captured through the lens of photojournalist Phanjoubam Santosh, have been put on display in his solo exhibition, the first of its kind in Manipur.

The 1,100 photographs were highlighted in a five-day exhibition, which began yesterday at Lamyanba Shanglen, here.

Deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, who is in-charge of home department, opened the exhibition yesterday.

Santosh, 52, started clicking in 1974 and became a freelance photojournalist in 1980.

The exhibition has been organised by Len Filmz, a documentary and short film production company in Imphal.

The photographs put on record how people in both the rural and urban areas tried to carry on with their lives despite all odds, how different ethnic communities preserve their tradition, culture, their way of life, advancement in sports, culture and developmental front.

“The photographs depict the history of Manipur. The human tragedies caused by men or nature, which have been captured by the photographer, send the message that such acts only cause misery and we all should avoid the tragedies as far as possible,” Gaikhangam said after seeing the photographs.

The photographs depicted militancy at its height, the Naga-Kuki clash, Manipur’s only state library going up in flames during the movement for replacing Bengali script with Meitei.

Irom Sharmila’s hunger strike against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in 2000 and her struggle was also recorded by the photographer.

Mary Kom’s success as a boxing champion and Kh. Pradipkumar’s fight against HIV and winning the Mr World title.

“Though Manipur attained statehood in 1972, people’s discontentment was growing because of being left out from the Five-Year Plans for two decades. There was confusion because of high ideals of having democracy and self-rule on one hand and the ground the reality of hard life on the other. This confusion triggered unrest, discord and discontentment and all these have been reflected in the photographs,” a social anthropologist of Manipur University, said.

There are also certain photographs that showcase Manipur’s rich flora and fauna, tourist spots, handloom and handicrafts, indigenous games and religious and cultural lives of different communities of Manipur.