Myanmar’s ‘Hell Hole’ exposed in Manipur film


A Manipuri feature film, Keishal jail-dugi fadoksing (Prisoners of Keishal jail), inspired by Ningthoukhongjam Bobo, a youth from Imphal who had spent more than four years of his life in a Myanmarese jail, tells the audience about how horrifying Myanmarese jails are and also highlights the violation of human rights.

Bobo, at the age of 20 went to Manipur's border township of Moreh to boost his family income and was arrested by Myanmarese military from the neighbouring country's town, Tamu, for reasons unknown to him. But his arrest came at a time when the Myanmarese military was mounting a crackdown on pro-democracy activists of the country. He witnessed the torture and brutalization of such activists.

When he returned home after serving his term in prison, his family was shocked and horrified as they thought he had died and had already performed his last rites. Bodo describes the jail as "Hell hole."

He spent three months in a military lock-up before he was sentenced to four years' imprisonment by a local court on the charge of entering Myanmar without valid documents. His ordeal came to light after a local television channel telecast an interview with him.

"I think mine is a story that needs to be told. I want to highlight the horrible, inhuman and degrading treatment meted out to prisoners by the Myanmar military," Bobo, who plays his own role in the film, said.

He further said he wanted to highlight the plight of prisoners in Myanmar to attract international humanitarian and rights bodies so that human rights of the prisoners are respected.

Bodo plays the role of Loya, a drummer who goes to Tamu town to earn a living in the adaptation. His ordeal begins when he is arrested while travelling in an auto rickshaw in that country.

It depicts the emotional, mental and physical trauma he goes through. He is confined on a small cell, denied food, human excreta and urine poured over him and forced to eat mud cakes and dry bark for survival.

The story is written by renowned singer Tapta and directed by Satyajit B.K and is a production of Plus Media.

Since Bodo learned Burmese during his time in prison, the film dialogues are mostly Burmese, making it easier for the other actors. The director and Bobo said that depending upon the success of the film, a second part depicting his life in the jail would also be produced.

The film's premier was held on October 24 where the crowd thronged Imphal's Bheigyachandra open air theatre. The film is expected to hit the screens next month and is set to horrify viewers.