Mizoram Minister turns labourer to help neighbour

He sprung a surprise by stepping in as there were fewer people due to COVID-19 protocols

Published - June 15, 2020 10:09 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Lalnghilhlova in Aizawl’s Chite Veng was strapped not just for financial resources but also labour to rebuild his dilapidated house. A donation of ₹4,68,663 to the community leaders of the locality from an anonymous donor a week ago took care of the money.

However, the tougher part — getting enough hands to for the actual construction — remained as the Mizoram government reimposed a total lockdown for two weeks from June 9.

His neighbours then decided to pitch in as part of their community service by carrying the construction materials from the stock yard about 60 metres downhill from the site.

But COVID-19 protocols meant not too many people could join in, and hefting the heavy stones required for the construction up the steep slope was way beyond what the volunteers who turned up on Saturday, could manage.

It was then that 53-year-old Robert Romawia Royte, Mizoram’s Minister for Sports and Tourism, from the adjoining Chhinga Veng decided to step in.

He took the local youths by surprise as he joined the workers to nonchalantly hoist a boulder on his shoulders, and walk up the slope to leave it at the construction site. The Minister worked with the others to help shift the stones for Mr Lalnghilhlova’s house.

Turning a labourer for a day is par for the course for Mr. Royte, who has worn many hats — a footballer-turned-government officer-turned businessman-turned-politician.

“I may be from another locality but Chite Veng is part of my Assembly constituency (Aizawl East II). Everyone in the area knows me and looks up to me as a leader and it is important for a leader to lead by example,” he told The Hindu after lending a hand at the site for the second day on Monday.

The Chite Veng community, he said, decided to rebuild Mr. Lalnghilhlova’s house into a two-storey structure so that a poor, homeless widow of the locality could live in the ground floor.

“I am not surprised by the Minister’s gesture who is quite well-known as a philanthropist and a sports promoter. What astounded me was the ease with which he lugged the boulders, as if he were carrying a football,” said local footballer Lalmama.

“Robert proved to be fitter than most other young boys who worked along with him,” said F. Vanlalsawma, the local council chairman.

A football fanatic like most Mizos, Mr Royte played at the university level. His dream of representing the Mizoram football team did not materialise, but his enthusiasm continued and he became one of the State’s top sports promoters and bought the Aizawl Football Club. The club created history by winning the I-League crown in 2017.

He entered politics and joined the Mizo National Front a month before the 2018 Assembly election, and was reportedly the richest candidate in Mizoram. He was elected from Aizawl East II.

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