Meet the Manipur woman auto driver with heart of ‘Jhansi ki Rani’

In Manipur, Eche Laibi Oinam is quite a familiar name for many people now, especially in state capital Imphal. The feisty woman came into the spotlight when Imphal-based filmmaker Meena Longjam shot a documentary on the life of the Manipur’s first woman auto driver, which eventually won a National Award in the non-feature category in 2015. The word ‘eche’ means sister in Manipuri.

Now, in her 50s, Eche’s name has once again grabbed headlines, especially on social media platforms. The mother of two sons, Eche hails from Pangei Bazaar in Imphal. She left everyone dumbfounded and in the process renewing the sense of real living when reports of her heroic act were highlighted on the media.

Eche is the woman auto driver who volunteered to help a young girl from Kamjong district after she recovered from COVID-19 and was discharged from Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) Hospital on Sunday.

When the 22-year-old patient, Somichon Chithung, was completely driven out of choice due to non-availability of ambulance or taxis to be dropped home from the hospital, Eche stepped in to help, although they were strangers to each other.

With no hesitation or fear of infecting the virus and despite knowing the history of the girl, the brave auto driver drove over 100 km at night along with her husband from Imphal and dropped the newly recovered girl at the Kamjong district headquarters.

Speaking with EastMojo, Eche said, “I could sense that there was no one there to help the girl and she was in trouble since she was just discharged from the hospital. That is why I volunteered to drop her.”

“I am happy that at least I was there for her though we were strangers to each other then,” she added.

As informed by her, she and her husband are now on home quarantine for seven days since the localities requested them as precautionary measures.

Meanwhile, social media users couldn’t get enough for the new sensational star as the story of the auto driver went viral on various platforms, especially on Facebook.

One user wrote on her Facebook wall, “God in the image of human. A lady with the heart of Jhansi Ki Rani.”

“Praiseworthy…..great soul. Humanity is a choice so she reveals exactly to this world,” said by another user.

Another wrote, “Power to Eche Laibi Oinam and to your conscience.”

“Life is still beautiful somewhere because of people like you. Respect and love for what you are doing. I know God’s reward for you is awaiting,” commented another user.

“The bold and the beautiful lady Eche Laibi,” said a user.

Similarly, another social media user lauded her and said, “Your work is highly appreciated. Proud ema of Manipur. May you stay healthy and happy.”

“At times like this, good people will emerge like sunrise. Very happy to hear such good deeds,” echoed another user.

“This is the kind of news we all waited for. Humanity still exist. May God blessed her with immense love and long life. Cheers!” the user said.

One of the journalists based in the state also said, “Sometimes a hero could be an auto driver.”

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