Village Volunteer Thounaojam Rajkumar survived for seven days without food and water after he received a bullet injury on his leg from the Kukis in Camp Nazareth on May 29, 2023.
Many people thought that he had died in the incident till state security forces and village volunteers rescued him and he has been undergoing treatment at RIMS hospital since then.
Thounaojam Rajkumar, 23 son of Shanjitkumar of Sugnu Awang Leikai was among the numerous village volunteers of Manipur who went to defend the Meiteis of Sugnu from the attack launched by Kuki militants on May 28, 2023.
As the village volunteers approached Nazareth, which is the stronghold of Kukis to flush out the Kuki militants from the area on that fateful day they were fired upon by Kuki militants and four Meitei village volunteers were killed.
Recalling the tragic incident of May 29, Rajkumar said that he was saved by the Almighty as he was rescued from the area after seven days and he survived without a single drop of water.
“We fired from our double barrel guns with cartridges towards the Kukis as soon as we reached Nazareth and some of us moved towards the Kuki area after they did not retaliate to our attack. The Kukis then started firing towards us while I was trying to cross a road and I did not even realise that I was injured. I was in a prone firing position as the Kukis did not stop firing and then later realised that I had been shot in the leg when I saw blood on my leg”, he said.
Narrating his story to the Imphal Free Press, Rajkumar lamented that 10 village volunteers were hiding behind a culvert and one of them was trying to take him out of the area. But he got killed by bullets fired by the Kukis and died on the spot.
“I stayed back as I was shot and thought that they would be back to take him out on May 30 but no one came for him and I hid myself from the Kukis inside a house in Nazareth till June 3. I heard voices of suspected Kuki militants and Assam Rifles near the house while I was hiding in the house for my life”, said Rajkumar.
He added that after days of hiding in the house he heard some Meitei voices on June 4 and he reached for the window and shouted for help identifying himself as Meitei. The Meiteis took him from there and saved his life, he said.
Rajkumar said that his leg is in a critical condition as the bullet injury had been left untreated for several days and a cyst started to form up in the area.
He is presently undergoing treatment at RIMS orthopaedic ward after he received first aid from Kakching Khunou Umathel primary health center on the day he was rescued.
It may be mentioned that Kukis launched attacks at the Meitei villages of Serou, Sugnu and Napat in the wee hours of May 28 after the ethnic violence between Kukis and Meiteis erupted in Manipur on May 3, 2023.
Houses of Meitei villages were set ablaze and an elderly woman was also burnt alive by the Kukis. People of the said villages fled to safer areas to nearby villages but now around 700 villagers of Serou have started returning back homes.
There was also an incident of Solam Haopi Area Kuki Chief Association and Solam Haopi Area Youth Development Organization handing over 90 Meitei labourers including nine women who have been working at D Khongkhai, T Seljang and Singjao Kuki Villages of Churachandpur district to Sugnu MLA K. Ranjit who is also the president of Peace Committee Sugnu A/C Adjoining Area of Chandel, Churachandpur and Bishnupur District Committee on May 10.
But, the peace short lived after the Kukis launched attacks in the Meitei villages of Serou, Sugnu and Napat by firing gunshots and burning down Meitei houses on May 28.
State Security Force and BSF managed to flush out Kuki militants from Serou and Nazareth which have been dominated by the Kukis and are still on vigil in the said areas.