Unau is your digital destination for celebrating the essence of brotherhood across the Kuki, Mizo, Zomi, and Hmar tribes.
In the tranquil evening hours, as the sun cast its golden glow upon my bedroom wall, I strummed my guitar and sang a few melodies. The crickets outside orchestrated their usual nocturnal symphony, and life seemed serene. Little did I know that this ordinary evening would soon transform into a nightmarish tale etched in my memory forever.
The backdrop to this story is the borderland between Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts, where whispers of commotion had begun to circulate. Yet, like many others in Imphal, I didn’t pay it much heed, hoping it wouldn’t spill over into our lives.
As I went about my evening routine, waiting for the telltale whistle of my pressure cooker, a cacophony arose nearby, not far from our rented residence in Langthabal Leikai, adjacent to the Manipur University (MU) campus. Phone calls revealed that the commotion had erupted at the chambers of Sir David, a high-ranking administrative officer at the university. A group had reportedly gathered there with ominous intentions – an attack on the officer or his property.
It became increasingly apparent that our safety was at risk, especially for those of us labeled as “Kukis.” We began packing our essentials, a precautionary measure for the uncertain hours that lay ahead. However, it soon became evident that this threat extended beyond ethnic labels; anyone with “Churachandpur” or “Kangpokpi” as their address was vulnerable.
Connected by phone, the “Kukis” in our rented building shared information and updates. Messages started pouring in, reporting attacks on hostels within the MU campus. Simultaneously, we informed friends living farther from MU to gather together and stay vigilant.
The predicament in Canchipur, where MU is located, is its remote distance from the city’s heart, where most of our tribal communities reside. The areas within the campus are underdeveloped and isolated, making the prospect of immediate help seem distant. Nevertheless, we clung to hope, reached out to numerous police officers’ numbers, but received no assistance. We found ourselves huddled together in a dimly lit room on the top floor, silencing our fears and anxiously waiting for help to materialize.
Our landlords, belonging to the majority community, took us by surprise. They steadfastly kept the main gate locked, but their motives remained shrouded in uncertainty. Was it a desire to stay out of trouble or genuine concern for our safety? That question remains unanswered. Tragically, our darkest fears were soon realized when a group of youths armed with bats and sticks arrived, intending to lock the gate.
Panic swept through our ranks as they approached, and everyone sought refuge in any available room. Some of us even concealed ourselves in nearby bushes. These hostile youths, armed with menacing batons, unleashed their fury, shouting and scouring for any “Kuki” they could find. It was evident that if they spotted one of us, there would be no mercy. Miraculously, just as they began their search, our fellow inhabitants managed to find secure hiding spots. After approximately thirty agonizing minutes, the hostile group departed, having found no one.
The night wore on, long and treacherous. We were informed that local police would escort us to safety, a prospect that offered only partial reassurance, given that these officers were also part of “that” community. However, we had no alternative. At around 1:00 a.m., the police arrived to escort us, taking us to the local police station, where we took shelter. A few hours later, we were relocated to a relief camp.
This is a condensed account of my harrowing experience surviving the night of May 3, a night when uncertainty and fear gripped our lives. It serves as a reminder of the fragility of peace and harmony and the need to safeguard the principles of freedom and coexistence in our diverse society.
(Story taken from HSA Tuithaphai Jt. Hqrs.’s Tuithaphai Times)