‘We can’t go back…’: Meitei woman recalls May 3 horror of ethnic clash in Manipur

‘We can’t go back…’: Meitei woman recalls May 3 horror of ethnic clash in Manipur

By India Today News Desk: My house was looted, burnt and bulldozed, and we can’t go back, said Noarem Kimi Devi, a Meitei woman from Kuki-dominated Churachandpur, who had to flee to Delhi with her 15-month-old baby after the fatal night of May 3, which has left an indelible imprint of a pricking pain caused by the breakout of a violent ethnic clash in Manipur.

“I am from Churachandpur, and unlike another group (Kukis), we Meiteis don’t have the privilege to come to Delhi. Luckily my sister sent a ticket for me as she was concerned for my 15-month-old baby because she knew I would be facing problems staying in the Moirang relief camp,” said Noarem while recalling the horror that gripped Manipur last month.

Speaking to India Today, Noarem said she was escorted safely by Army personnel to a relief camp. However, she claimed that the forces did not retaliate against the miscreants.

‘ARMY ASKED US TO RUN AWAY’

“My house was burnt down on May 3 at 10 pm. When we called the police, we were told we had to manage ourselves for the night. Our locality people were staying together at a building, and around 4 am, 5 to 6 army personnel came, and instead of retaliating to the miscreants, they asked us to run away. We were taken to the streets and later to an army camp,” she said while sharing her experience in the aftermath of the violence.

Noarem said she would never go back to Churachandpur as her house was destroyed.

“No, we can’t go back. Our house has been set ablaze and bulldozed. Houses that weren’t burnt, I was told by our friends, some people came…first ladies came to loot the houses, and later around May 5 or 6, the houses were burnt in the presence of police and army people,” she claimed.

Noarem said her neighbours helped her during the night violence broke out. “We were taken to Assam rifle camp in Churachandpur,” she said.

Noarem said her family had been staying in Churanchanpur since the days of her maternal grandmother, who was also the first street vendor in the district.

The victim of Manipur violence claimed that the militants were threatening her friends in the state.

“When my house was not burnt, I asked a Zou family to take out certificates and some jewellery from the house. He helped me before the house was burnt. Now, when I am asking a Meitei Pangal friend for my belongings, they are being threatened by the militants that their arms would be chopped off,” Noarem said.

‘NOT ALL MEITEIS ARE ENEMIES’

Meanwhile, the Founder of the Home Fellowship Movements, Rev L Kamzamang, said that not all Meiteis were enemies but people responsible needed to be dealt with.

“Not all Meiteis are our enemies, but those people who burn our houses are the people that need to be dealt with,” said Kamzamang.

He said that Noarem Kimi Devi was always welcome to come back to Churachandpur as it was completely possible for the Kukis and Meiteis to live in harmony.

A fresh incident of violence was reported in Manipur’s Imphal on Friday (June 16) as miscreants set an abandoned house ablaze this afternoon. The targeted house was located next to the new building of the Advanced Hospital in the capital city.

Ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts on May 3 to protest the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

ALSO READ | Vehicles torched, files burnt to ashes: Scenes after minister’s house set ablaze in Manipur

ALSO READ | ‘Manipur is burning today’: As violence flares up again, civil society groups call for immediate ceasefire

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