Surviving Violence

Amid the ongoing ethnic unrest in Manipur, working Manipuri professionals in the city share their perspective on the crisis
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

BENGALURU:   Ever since May 3, the disturbing memories of the ethnic violence has remained fresh in the minds of everyone in Manipur. It’s the day blood spilled once again in a northeastern state. Recently on the matter, many notable people have either given their remarks or done their part. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the ‘nation is with Manipur’.

Chef Suresh Pillai recently made the news after him and his team were able to rescue the family members of one of his staff who hailed from Manipur. Historian Ramachandra Guha has gone on record to suggest sacking Manipur’s Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who is presently campaigning for peace in the state, for failing to curb the violence. As of now, 181 people have died and over 300 injured in the spree of ethnic violence between the Meitei and the Kuki-Zo people. 

Ranjana Thiyam
Ranjana Thiyam

“I keep travelling to Manipur often and it has historically been a disturbed state. Ever since the ’70s and ’80s as all the legacy laws from the British-era continued. Eventually things started to get better. I was surprised to see there was a thriving nightlife in the city and it made me quite happy. But the events of May 3 changed everything.

The state is engulfed in a very stressful environment right now. The state of education in the state has also collapsed. Ones who can afford to go out are exploring their options. But there are folks who are also coming back to help their fellows with relief and charity work as it’s very needed right now,” shares Yumnam Dhaneswar, Manipuri Meitei Association Bangalore publicity and media secretary. 

Post May, 27-year-old Gift, as she is known among family and friends, left home her home hurriedly. While she might have just gotten married to her fiancé in Nagaland, she decided it was a safer option to move to Bengaluru. Now employed in a salon, Gift, although away from her family, is relishing her new-found independence, at least to a certain extent. 

“It’s a brand new life. I live with eight people and another three from my hometown will also be moving in soon for the same I reasons I did. But the owner is understanding of our situation. Though it’s very cramped, it’s at least better than the situation back home,” she says, adding, “There was so much unrest, and the only option was to leave home. I can’t imagine doing a job like this or earning how much I do here back home. Honestly, most of us don’t have any option but to leave home if we have to make something of our lives.”

Some Places of Respite
While the situation is harrowing in many areas of the state, the city districts, the area around its capital Imphal in particular, has been a lot kinder to its citizens. “I come from the Imphal West area. Growing up, we had never seen any issue between the different tribes. We grew up in a very harmonious situation. But we did hear of the disturbances which were happening in more ‘underground’ regions. Even when I visited Manipur sometime last year, we didn’t see any sign of unrest in the Imphal area. We had no idea actually. Only after May this year, we kind of realised the gravity of the situation,” shares Sudha P (name changed). 

Ranjana Thiyam, also hailing from the Imphal West area, also did not see much signs of the conflict in her formative years. “However, after May 3, an atmosphere of panic and anxiety has taken over. Though I live in the Imphal West district, my place is in a foothill area. So, chances of an attack happening are not nill. My sister-in-law is pregnant and she hadn’t been getting sleep due to fear. In fact, all the women of the family were either sleeping together in one room or in the community hall while the men were keeping watch outside. Looking at that I thought it is not good for my sister-in-law, so I have brought her, my brother and my mother to Bengaluru currently,” concludes Thiyam. 

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