CCpur survivor recalls May 3 horror
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, December 18 2023: On May 3 night, Sumila carried Simran on her back and ran for their lives in Churachandpur.

Simran suffers from Dwarfism Disability and is wheelchair bound.

She is 17 .

Khumukcham Sumila, 43, is her mother. From Churachandpur's Khuga Tampak Awang Laibung Leikai, Sumila is married to Khumukcham Somi (48) of Kakching Khunou.

But, Sumila, her husband and two daughters including Simran were living in a home they had built on a piece of land they bought near her parental home at Churachandpur.

Before May 3, Sumila worked as a tailor and did menial work on the side to support her family and education for children.

Her daughter, Simran is a Class VII student.

Before May 3, she studied at Sielmat Christian Higher Secondary School in Churachandpur.

On May 3 there was a wedding at her neighbour's house and she was preparing to attend the ceremony.

CCpur survivor recalls May 3 horror
CCpur survivor recalls May 3 horror

A little after 3 pm, she heard the news about Kukis burning Meitei houses at Torbung from her younger sister over the phone.

Her younger sister instructed her to bring the children to their house (Sumila's parental house).

As instructed over the phone, she took the children to her mother's house located just across a river.

Many elders and ailing persons were taking shelter in several houses in the neighbourhood including her parental house.

Men were guarding the houses.

At around 8 pm, they heard that the Kukis had started burning shops belonging to the Meiteis in the neighbourhood.

As the Meitei men were stretched and scattered, they were facing difficulties guarding the houses, women and children from Kukis who were "wielding guns and firing indiscriminately" .

They then took a decision to take refuge at Ibudhou Maikei Ngakpa Laibung, a sacred place of worship for Meiteis.

In the cover of the darkness, some time after 9 pm, they went down the river and proceeded towards the Laibung (worship ground) .

Sumila carried Simran on her back.

At the Laibung, she found the ground filled with Meitei residents of Churachandpur.

There were also Meiteis taking shelter at Meitei houses in the vicinity and in the Meitei Society Shanglen. Careful not to attract attention, all the lights were switched off.

"It was cold at night.

We didn't have time to pack clothes and valuables.

We only had what we were wearing at the time," Sumila said.

She was taking shelter in a garage.

"When Simran complained she was cold in the dark, I crawled and searched with my hands till I found a piece of clothes.

I wrapped the rag over her and kept her hugging tight to keep her warm," said Sumila.

The real horror and struggle was yet to come.

"The ordeal didn't end there.

It was only the beginning.

The pain is still fresh and I can never forget what we saw that day," Sumila said.

She said one after another Meitei men were brought in with bullet wounds.

"One was brought in with bullet wounds in his hands.

A little later, another was brought in with bullet wounds in the legs.

Several men were injured.

They were bleeding," Sumila said.

At around 3 am, Sumila said they were told that the Army would come to rescue them.

"It gave us some relief and hope, but no one could say when they would arrive.

The wait for the Army never seemed to end.

It was the longest night," Sumila said.

The Army came at around 4 am and started evacuation, she said.

"As my husband was physically weak, I carried Simran on my back and walked towards the Army vehicle.

As I was carrying Simran on my back, I couldn't board a vehicle early amid the rush," Sumila said.

Hours after at around 10 am, Sumila and her family along with many others were waiting to board the Army vehicles.

"When we were waiting to board the vehicles, Kukis came running at us.

Scared we hid behind the Army.

The Army told them to stop approaching and later the Army personnel spoke with them," Sumila said.

When the Army were speaking with the Kukis, Simran told her she was hungry.

"In the vicinity, there was a shop that was vandalised by the Kukis.

My husband found some water bottles and brought them.

My daughter drank it to quench her thirst" .

After some time, they boarded a vehicle and were brought to Tuibong Secretariat.

"On our way to Tuibong Secretariat, Kukis shouted and pelted stones at us.

After we reached Tuibong Secretariat, we heard sounds of guns firing," she said.

Inside an empty room, Sumila found some cardboard box which she tore and used for lying down.

She saw a woman bringing some food from the Army and feeding it to children.

Sumila too approached the Army and begged for some food.

But, there was no food left.

At around 12 pm, an ambulance came to pick up the weak and ailing.

She approached some members of her locality and they told the police about Simran's conditions and disability.

Sumila and her family were then allowed to board the ambulance.

"On the road, Kukis were dancing with loudspeakers.

They pelted stones at the vehicle.

Whenever the vehicle came across Kukis on the road, security forces told us to crouch down.

So we crouched down," Sumila said.

The ambulance reached Moirang at around 4.30 pm.

Now, Sumila is with her family members at the relief camp at Moirang.

Simran, due to her condition, needs special care.

She requires calcium in her diet.

At the relief camp, the situation has forced her to forgo many of her diets and routines that are required, Sumila said.

"The food at the relief camp is prepared for all the inmates.

She sometimes refuses to eat the food.

She feels cold at night.

We can't afford to buy a water bag to keep her warm.

We sometimes borrow one from an elderly person in the camp," Sumila said.

Sumila says Simran misses her home, school and friends in Churachandpur.

"Simran is special and she needs special care.

We will be grateful if the Government provides some assistance for care of displaced children like her staying in relief camps," Sumila said.

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