Families of 31 missing Meiteis in Manipur conflict seek closure

"I hope that someone would call me saying my son is found alive and that is why I always keep my mobile with me so that I don’t miss a call."

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 3 May 2024, 11:15 pm

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Almost a year on, families of those disappeared victims of the prevailing Manipur conflict cling to hope, believing that their loved ones may still be alive.

The survivors of the families of the missing persons, who have been to Delhi, have raised voices demanding the safe return of their loved ones. Since the onset of the violence that erupted in the state on May 3, 2023, 31 Meeteis have been reportedly missing. 

Among them include Atom Kavita, 47, wife of Atom Samarendra, a journalist missing since May 6, 2023 along with Yumkhaibam Kiran Kumar.


"My husband was among the first persons to have gone missing. I have performed the last rites as per our tradition by using Pangong tree leaves in place of his body. However, the bitter truth is there is no closure and I can’t find peace. Deep in the corner of my heart, I still believe my husband is alive somewhere and I still long for his return because he had helped the Kukis during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Kuki villagers have deep respect and love for him. I can't believe they would kill a person who helped them in their dire needs," she said.

Phijam Ibungobi, 63, father of 20-year-old Phijam Hemanjit, recalled that his son along with 17-year old Hijam Linthoingambi, went missing on June 6, 2023 and later a picture purportedly showing their dead bodies surfaced at the end of September 2023. 

Orphaned by the conflict, 13-year-old Yaikhom Bidya, recounted the harrowing incident stating that she was desperately fleeing along with his father, 39-year-old Yaikhom Nanao from Moreh Ward No 9, on May 3 when a mob of gun-wielding Kuki Militants attacked the minority Meitei colony. "We were hiding in a bush. It was night and dark. I have never seen it," she said.

Another victim, Ninghthoujam Premlata, 47, mother of 19-year-old Ningthoujam Anthony, who went missing since November 5, said, "It breaks my heart every day thinking how they would have tortured my son before killing him in their custody in cold blood. He was not a security personnel or a village volunteer or involved in any violence. He was just a young boy who unknowingly crossed the buffer zone during a joyride. Had the Police and Central Security manned the buffer zone, he would have been with me today. Even today, I hope that someone would call me saying my son is found alive and that is why I always keep my mobile with me so that I don’t miss a call."


Maibam Devrani, 42, mother of Maibam Avinash, 16 year, who went missing on November 5, 2023 also told of her woes. The families earnestly appealed to the Centre and state governments and even to the Kuki Community to facilitate the return of their loved ones if they are alive, or their bodies otherwise.

Commenting on the same, President of SOULS (Souls Offered Unitedly for a Lustrated Society), RK Bijyalakshmi, necessitated tracing the remains or whereabouts of the missing persons to ameliorate the sufferings of the grieving families and allow them to perform the last rites and bring closure to them. She further demanded that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

If the bodies are untraceable, there is an immediate requirement for the authorities concerned to declare the missing persons as untraceable and issue certificates accordingly, she added.

Their stories were collectively coordinated by DEMAS; Delhi Meitei Coordinating Committee; Global Manipur Federation; Karnataka Meitei Association; Meitei Yaipha Lup; Meitei Alliance; Meitei Diaspora in America; Meitei Heritage Society; NUPI; Souls Offered United for a Lustrated Society; Team Meitei Personalities and World Meitei Council.


First published:


manipur violencemanipur conflictmissing meiteis

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur


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