One of highly respected journalists of the Northeast India region, Khelen Thokchom of Manipur passed away at the age of 54 on Sunday morning.

Local media reported that after returning home on Saturday night, the veteran journalist complained of chest pain and was rushed to RIMS where he breathed his last. Doctors said that Khelen suffered a cardiac arrest.

Khelen was associated with The Telegraph. On Sunday, two of his reports appeared in the newspaper with which he was associated for quite some time.

The untimely demise of Khelen Thokchom, who was quite popular among his friends and colleagues across the region, has stunned the fraternity.

Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh has expressed shock over the sudden and untimely demise.

Khelen 1 – The News Mill

Soon after he came to know about the sad news, the CM visited Khelen’s house at Tera Tongbram Leikai in Imphal West district and paid floral tribute and also shared grief with the bereaved family.

“I was shocked on hearing the news. I invited Khelen in my office and discussed many issues with him just yesterday. With his demise, we have lost a good friend and a very good human being. I express my deepest condolence and share the sorrow of the family,” said the chief minister.

Biren Singh also said that Khelen was one of his long-time friends as he also started his career as a journalist.

Later, the CM attended a condolence service held at Manipur Press Club, Majorkhul, where a large number of people including media persons gathered to pay their last respect to the departed soul.

“Khelen Thokchom wore many hats and he wore them well and in style… that of an excellent and intrepid journalist, that of a true northeasterner, a proud Manipuri, a wonderful flautist, proud cook, highly regarded mentor and above all a wonderful human being,” said a statement from The Telegraph resident editor Pranab Bora in Guwahati.

Khelen, born on February 1, 1961 joined The Telegraph on July 1, 2003. “In a state torn apart by militancy and violence, he stood tall as someone whose reports portrayed not just the mayhem but the culture of a people, their music, dance and literature… He stood for hope,” added Bora.

Khelen stood for all things moderate and inclusive and his writing was proof of it… And while the world spoke of Manipuri and northeast India only in terms of militants and the military, Khelen Thokchom was the learned reporter with an evergreen smile and a flute.

“While the entire extended family of The Telegraph mourns his passing I have lost a close friend who would insist on calling me ‘bose’. Wherever you are Khelen stay well, and make music… After all, you have been quite the one-man symphony,” said Bora.

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