From Locked Room to Camp to Risky Airport Ride and Rs 16,000 a Ticket: How This Family Fled Manipur

Vehicles are set on fire after violence broke out during a tribal solidarity march called by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur, in Imphal on May 4, 2023.  (PTI)

Vehicles are set on fire after violence broke out during a tribal solidarity march called by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur, in Imphal on May 4, 2023. (PTI)

Speaking to News18 from a safe place, Thang, a resident of Imphal, recalled his family’s escape from the violence-hit state. He says the hardest thing is explaining the situation to his 10-year-old son

The seven of us locked ourselves in a room and could hear explosions and tear-gas shells all night, Thang, a Manipur resident, told News18 over a Zoom call after managing to escape with his family at a heavy economic cost. Told after

Thang and his family were in Imphal when violence broke out in Torbung area of ​​Churachandpur district, about 63 km away, during a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organized by the All Tribal Student’s Union Manipur (ATSUM) on Wednesday to protest against Meitei’s demand for Scheduled Castes. Went. Tribe (ST) status.

March after march was organized by tribals including Nagas and Kukis Manipur The high court had last month asked the state government to send a recommendation to the Center within four weeks on the demand for ST status by the Meti community.

During the march, an armed mob allegedly attacked people from the Meitei community, triggering retaliatory attacks in districts of the Valley, which escalated the violence across the state.

“We heard there were some protests chhurchandpur, We didn’t expect it to be this big. We have heard that something has happened in Churachandpur and thought that things will settle down soon,” he told News18 from an undisclosed location.

Leaving the kingdom was a difficult decision, but it also cost Thang’s family a small fortune. (Special Arrangement/News18)

“What happened after that was unimaginable. We came to know that houses were set on fire in Imphal. We thought the police would bring things under control. But things got worse.”

Detailing the situation after the internet shutdown in the area, Thang said: “The next day, it seemed that the entire Imphal city had been taken over. our house was near Station (police station), but we were not safe. That night, we could only hear explosions and tear gas shells. We got scared and all seven of us locked ourselves in a room. Our kids were scared.”

“From our window, we could see fire everywhere. Police was trying but could not do much. It was complete hooliganism. We could hear people shouting and screaming. We were scared to death and didn’t know what to do. Fake news was also rampant. On May 4, we came to know that we can take shelter in a paramilitary camp,” he said.

At the camp, Thang and his family are faced with yet another dangerous situation. “A lot of people were brought there and everything had to be arranged suddenly. There was no water, no proper place, no facility. Our children started falling ill. We had to leave the camp and thought of returning home. But we finally decided to move out.

Leaving the state was a difficult decision but it also cost the family a small fortune.

“We could not buy tickets as the internet was not working. The goons were roaming freely despite orders to shoot at sight. Our friends from outside the state booked tickets for us. It cost us Rs 16,000 per person instead of the usual Rs 4,000 per person. “Today, I am trying to book tickets for my relatives. His price today is Rs 40,000. This has not been done.

Reaching the airport was another challenge for the family. “There was no arrangement to reach the airport. I requested help from a friend in the security force. My friend said we could tag along with his convoy. In just 30 minutes we packed our bags and left. Most people do not have that privilege. There are people who have bought tickets but are not able to reach the airport safely.

Talking to News18, Thang expressed hope that peace would return to his kingdom. “The situation is so tense and volatile… I appeal to my brothers and sisters that there is no tit-for-tat solution. It is painful. Violence is never the answer… Friends from different communities are helping us. We have co-existed peacefully for a long time.”

Asked if he has any appeal to the government, Thang said: “My appeal to the central government is to please evacuate those who are in danger in Manipur. I had the good fortune to contact the security personnel, but most of the people trapped there do not have contacts. A large number of people are stranded in Manipur. help them. We need air evacuation. Flight tickets are too high.

The family is out of immediate danger but Thang faces the toughest task: “My son isn’t even 10 years old. I don’t know how to explain it to him.”

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