The Meitei people of Kanglatongbi have been living in a precarious situation since the sudden ethnic clash broke out in Manipur on May 3. Around 40 Meitei families have been living for years in Kanglatongbi, which is located in Imphal West district, bordering Kangpokpi, a Kuki-dominated district. Raising their plight, they have strongly lambasted the state government for neglecting them during the current unrest.
Kanglatongbi Bazar Board Leikai is a locality of the Meiteis residing in the Kanglatongbi area, which is populated by people of the Nepali community and Naga tribes.
Speaking to the Imphal Free Press, one Meira Paibi (women activists) of Kanglatongbi Bazar Board Leikai, Seema Thoudam, expressed the problems faced by the Meiteis in the area ever since the clash between Meitei and Kuki communities broke out. She said that most of the Meitei households in Kanglatongbi are daily wage earners, and not a single family has a stable government job.
“We locked ourselves out of public places like markets due to the fear that the Kukis might attack us anytime. The Kanglatongbi market is open, but only the Nepalis and Naga people are running businesses in the market areas, as no Meiteis could go out in public places,” she lamented.
Narrating the fear and uncertainty faced by the Meiteis of Kanglatongbi, Seema said that women and children from every Meitei household have been spending their nights together in a single house while the men go out to protect the village and their families.
There have been no incidents of Kukis attacking the village since the clash broke out, as the Border Security Force (BSF) and state forces have been deployed in the area, Seema said. She also demanded the authorities concerned provide additional security forces for safeguarding the Meiteis living in Kanglatongbi Bazar Board Leikai.
Seema recalled an incident in which the Kukis vandalised a Manipur Police Commando complex building in Kanglatongbi Santipur at the beginning of the clash in early May.
The area in Imphal West district has been occupied by the Kukis by vandalising the commando complex constructed by the Manipur government using a JCB excavator and has been converted into a ground, she added.
“Commando personnel tried to take over the area on May 23 and 24, but opposing the act, Kuki militants fired gunshots towards the commandos. A commando personnel sustained bullet injury on his leg during the incident and since then the commandos have been keeping them safe after being attached at Sekmai Police station,” she narrated.
Dejected by the series of events, Seema said the areas of Kangpokpi, Saparmeina, Motbung and CharHajare in Kangpokpi district have been occupied by the Kukis by flushing out all the Meiteis from the said areas, and all the Meitei houses have been torched. On top of that, Kanglatongbi Mandir Leikai in Imphal West district has also been occupied by the Kukis, and armed Kuki militants were seen patrolling the area every day, she mentioned.
She alleged that four Meitei youths who went to Kanglatongbi Mandir Leikai have been apprehended by the Kuki militants and have not returned home to date. She elaborated on the incident, saying that two of them are from Sekmaijin under Kakching district and the other two are from Sekmai, Imphal West.
The two from Sekmaijin lost their way towards Mandir Leikai on their way to Santipur, and the other two from Sekmai entered the area while collecting stones from the river.
She said that Assam Rifles halted the Meiteis from entering the area as it is not safe.
Moreover, students of Kanglatongbi Bazar Board Leikai have not been going to schools as the two private schools and one government school in Kanglatongbi Mandir Leikai where they were studying have been occupied by the Kukis. Parents are lost in thoughts for their children's future, she added.
Seema also mentioned the failing agricultural activities in the foothills for the people of Sekmai and Kanglatongbi. She urged the state government to look into the matter and allow the farmers to carry out agricultural activities timely.
She also condemned the government for turning a blind eye to the small Meitei villages in the areas bordering Kangpokpi district and added that they have not received a single grain of rice from the authorities concerned since the ethnic clash broke out in the state.
She also appealed to the Sekmai MLA and Minister Heikham Dingo to take every necessary step to safeguard the Meiteis of Kanglatongbi Bazar Board Leikai and to deploy additional security forces for them so that they can live in peace.
Speaking to the Imphal Free Press, Kanglatongbi Bazar Board Leikai Meira Paibi secretary Wareppam ongbi Sanahanbi Devi also condemned the government for neglecting the small group of Meitei people residing in a border village of Kangpokpi district during the current unrest.
She also raised the lack of daily necessities faced by the people, and appealed to the government to take steps to make Kanglatongbi a conflict-free zone for the education of the children.