Riots back home threaten future of Manipuri students in Delhi

Their homes and shops torched, many students from Manipuri say continuing violence has cast a shadow on their future and ambitions

NEW DELHI | Updated: 24 June, 2023 5:05 pm IST

NEW DELHI: As violence rages on in their home state for nearly two months, Manipuri students studying in various colleges in Delhi find themselves trapped, their dreams shattered, and their finances depleted.

The homes of many of these students have either been reduced to ashes or vandalized by rioters with their family members now living in government shelter homes, waiting for the return of normalcy – which keeps evading the northeastern state.

Two of such students The New Indian interacted with said that they were planning their annual visit to their hometown after their examinations concluded but the ethnic clashes that broke early May have left them worried for the safety of their families.

21-year-old Thokchom Thoibi Devi and Moirangthem Merima Devi (20) currently reside in a hostel as a paying guest in the Maurice Nagar area of student hotspot of North Campus.

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

Thoibi revealed that while she could speak to her parents over the phone, the suspension of internet services for the past two months has deprived her of a chance to see their faces over video call. To add to her misery, funds have dried up, leaving her unable to pay her hostel fees.

“My final exams have already concluded. We were hopeful of returning to our hometowns, but then the riots erupted. On the night of May 3 and 4, my village was brutally attacked. Attackers beat people and set homes on fire. Throughout the night, no help arrived from the government,” she told The New Indian.

Thokchom Thoibi Devi is a native of Mureh village in Tengnoupal district. She belongs to Meitei community. 

With tears rolling down her cheek, she continued: “The following day, when everything was in ruins, the police finally came and relocated my family to a government shelter home.”

Thoibi, who belongs to the Meitei community, said her village Mureh in Tengnoupal district on India-Myanmar border has witnessed ethnic tensions in the past, but she never imagined it could escalate to such massive proportions.

“My entire village has been decimated; everyone has abandoned their homes,” said the woman, who studies History at Satyawati College.

ALSO READ: Shah calls all-party meeting to discuss Manipur violence

Thoibi’s father works as a driver, and her mother operated a small food joint to support their three daughters’ education. With her family now homeless, Thoibi’s aspirations of becoming an IAS officer hang in the balance.

“How can I achieve my dream when my family is without a home? I implore the government to regain control over the situation and restore peace in my state,” pleaded Thoibi, her voice filled with a mix of desperation and hope.

Moirangthem Merima Devi, a student of DU’s Laxmibai College, shares Thoibi’s pain. “We no longer have the means to pay our hostel fees. Thankfully, our PG owner is showing kindness and understanding, but how long can this continue? With internet services banned, we cannot receive financial support from our parents. We cannot return to our state due to the unavailability of transportation, compounded by curfews still in place in many parts of the region.”

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