Lost home & unborn child: Manipur family recounts horror, wants peace

NEW DELHI | Updated: 23 June, 2023 2:29 pm IST

NEW DELHI: The night of May 3 and 4 marked a horrifying turning point for Hanglem Robina Chanu and her family in violence-hit Manipur. Their house was attacked and set ablaze by rioters, leaving them traumatized and homeless. Now, residing in Delhi with their relatives, Chanu and her family share their heart-wrenching tale, hoping for peace to be restored in their homeland.

Recalling the nightmarish events, Chanu, a 34-year-old native of Khumujamba Meitei Leikai village in Churachandpur district, narrated their pain and misery in an interview with The New Indian.

Chanu said she along with her 3-year-old daughter, elderly parents, brother, three uncles, and their families could not do anything but watch in horror in absence of state machinery.

“We are living in complete trauma and distress. No one listens to us, be it the central government, state authorities, militants, or rioters. Our family is homeless, and each member faces an uncertain future,” Chanu shared, her voice trembling and tears streaming down her face.

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Recounting her ordeal, the woman further said: “On the evening of May 4, protests were taking place peacefully in certain areas. Suddenly, a flash mob descended upon our locality and began attacking our houses. Some were set on fire. I was feeding my daughter and had to flee, leaving behind that plate of food.”

Chanu somehow managed to get out of the state along with her family only to be informed that the remaining parts of her home and shops were reduced to ashes by another mob. “We were fortunate to escape with our lives. We stayed in a shelter home for a few days before being assisted by the army to reach Imphal. I returned to Delhi and called my other family members, as we had nowhere else to go,” Chanu shared.

But their troubles refused to die down. Though they did not suffer any physical assault, her elderly parents fell ill during the life-saving struggle and are currently undergoing treatment at Delhi’s Majeedia Hospital. To add to the family’s wounds, her sister-in-law tragically lost her unborn child.

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Manipur currently grapples with a curfew imposed in districts bordering Myanmar. The tension between the Meitei and Kuki communities has escalated, resulting in over 200 casualties and thousands of injuries. More than 50,000 people have been displaced, forced to abandon their homes and seek refuge in government facilities.

In an effort to address the situation, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has called for an all-party meeting in Delhi on June 24 to discuss the situation and a way out.

Chanu explained that Churachandpur, situated near the Myanmar border, serves as a crucial business hub for the state. However, it has become a hotbed of violence, compelling residents from 13 villages, including her own, to flee. “We have learned that no house remains standing; they were all razed by the attackers. They even issued threats, warning us not to return,” she added.

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