Violence-hit victims of Yaiphakol Leikai in Churachandpur, Manipur, who are taking shelter in relief centres amid the unrest, are longing to return to their hometown and questioned the government how long they would have to stay in relief centres.
Still driven by fear of more attacks while they expressed their desire to rebuild their lives, they demanded the government to provide them firearms so that they can “defend and protect themselves from the Kukis” when they return to their places.
Some of the displaced people of Yaiphakol Leikai, taking shelter at the relief centre opened at Sendra Tourist resort, said that they want to breath their last in their hometown even if they have to die amid the ongoing unrest in the state.
Speaking to the Imphal Free Press, one Naorem Indu of Yaiphakol Leikai condemned the Central and state governments for failing to resolve the ongoing clash which has completed three months till date.
The 38-year-old displaced victim demanded the government to provide guns to the civilians to defend themselves from their attackers, alleging that the authorities concerned have failed to provide protection and safety to the innocent civilians living in villages.
Indu recalled May 3, the day the clash between the Meitei and the Kuki communities broke out in Churachandpur district. She said it was early evening and she was preparing dinner for her family. When she heard that the Kukis were attacking the Meitei people who had been residing in Churachandpur, she and her family had to immediately flee their house, leaving their cooked dinner behind.
She narrated to this IFP correspondent that she and her hungry children had to climb a dense hill for their lives and later reached a Border Security Force (BSF) camp in the area around 9.30 pm.
“I saw the Meitei houses in Churachandpur Yaiphakol Leikai going up in flames while we were running for our lives on the hill,” she recalled.
Indu said that they were shifted to the relief camp opened in Sendra Tourist Resort after staying for nine days in the BSF camp. She added that they have been living in the relief camps with all the basic necessities provided, but they cannot stay there forever.
Like other victims, she too expressed a strong desire to return to their old places and normalcy to return so that they can live peacefully like before.
Condemning the government for failure to address the crisis, she said that they no longer want to live in the relief centres and want to return to normal life with their hard earned money. Those inmates, who are unwell, are treated with their own money, she mentioned.
“A minor succumbed to an illness in the relief centre due to lack of financial support,” she added.
Indu urged the government to allow them to return to their hometown and help rebuild their lives instead of announcing ex-gratia for those killed in the clash.
“We don’t want our lives to be exchanged with ex-gratia,” she said.
She condemned the authorities concerned for only lodging an FIR against the Meitei civilians and not lodging any FIR on the Kukis when they have committed numerous crimes.
Another inmate, one 47-year-old Moirangthem Gobin of Yaiphakol Leikai told the Imphal Free Press that the government is trying to relocate the displaced people to prefabricated houses instead of allowing them to return to their respective hometowns.
Expressing no desire to shift to prefabricated houses, he appealed to the government to let them return to their villages instead, with guns to defend themselves from the Kukis.