Imphal, Aug 30:
A displaced Meitei Christian from Leimakhong Chingmang village in Imphal West district, who died recently in a relief camp was cremated by the Naga community without the presence of any family members or relatives as armed Kuki villagers from the neighbouring villages continued unremitted firing towards the Meitei village.
“Our Naga brothers help to cremate my elders who follow Christian faith as we cannot enter to crematorium of our village”, Phuritsabam Jeevan Meitei told reporters at Manipur Press Club.
The village Leimakhong Chingmang, with just around 500 residents is located close to the headquarters of 57 Mountain Division of the Indian Army and is surrounded by Kuki villages on three sides. The village is now a ghost as Kuki people who are settling in villages surrounding the village had started attacking them in the aftermath of May 3 violence. The villagers are now taking shelter at relief camps open at Khurkhul, Kanto, and others in Imphal West district. Among those refugees in their own land are women and children plus dozens of physically challenged people.
“It is over three months since we left our houses, now we want to return back as we cannot stay in relief camps forever”, Tombisana, a village lady told the reporters. But then in the name of security reason, we are not allowed to enter our village by the Security Forces while the Kuki villagers let to move freely besides allowing them to stay in their villages, Tombisana said.
In the wake of the violence that erupted on May 3, the top officers of the 57 Mountain Division called all chiefs of both Meitei and the Kuki villages of the area brought an agreement that the villages live peacefully. The Army authority also assured full security to the villagers, Jeevan told the reporters. He added that besides the assurance, the armed Kuki people from the neighboring villages started attacking us leaving us with no choice but to run away with our families to relief camps. Till today the Kuki armed group continues firing towards the village from time to time.
“We are not armed, we don’t have license gun, and we cannot stay in relief camps all our life”, Jeevan said adding that unless we establish our own protection force we will not be able to return to our village.
The Leimakhong Chingmang Villagers urged the government to set up a state police post in the village so that people could return to their villages.