Scarred by terror, Thaba shares horror tale of survival
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, July 12 2023: In the midst of the horrifying violence in Churachandpur district headquar ters on May 3, 53-year old Thaba had to hide with her two grandkids on the roof of a community hall to survive the mob, who assaulted and looted the Meetei people and their properties.

Two staffers of The People's Chronicle recently visited a relief camp at Government Dance College, Palace Compound, Imphal.

It was late afternoon and two children playing badminton caught the attention.

These children, named Loya and Thoibi (name changed), revealed that they hailed from Chu-rachandpur district.

Loya, a 10-year-old boy, shared the harrowing experience, saying, "We fled our home on the evening of May 3 amidst tear gas shelling and firing.

Our father recently passed away, and our mother got separated from us before the violence started.

We had been living with our grandmother, grandfather, and uncle.

I study in class 4 at GK Montessori School, and Chan (younger sister), is in class 1.Our grandmother mentioned that we will be sent to a nearby school.

Although we are fine here, we yearn to return to Churachandpur and live there.

However, we also fear the firing, tear gas, and violent mobs" .

Loya's grandfather, known for his tailor shop called SK Hood at Churachandpur Old Bazar specialises in vehicle hoods, and his grandmother, who runs a rice ho-tel-cum-restaurant, were familiar with almost everyone in town.

However, the violent events of May 3 razed their home, tailor shop, rice hotel, and the restaurant to the ground.

All their properties were lost, adding to the pain and hardship the family had already endured due to the recent loss of Loya's father and separation from their mother.

Thaba expressed concern about the fate of her grandchildren, apart from the loss of their properties and livelihoods.

She recalled that they had never anticipated the May 3 rally would turn violent and shatter their lives.

Initially, they heard reports of mobs burning houses in Torbung, but they reassured themselves, hoping the violence would not escalate and affect them.

However, by 7 pm, Kuki mobs began vandalising and setting fire to Meetei houses in Churachandpur town.

Fearing for their lives, Thaba and her family locked their home, came out to the street and cautiously observed the unfolding scenario.

As the mob reached their home, they burned her younger son's motorcycle (Bullet) and began vandalising their property.

In the face of imminent danger, they joined around 200 Meeteis seeking refuge in a lighthouse.

Later, a team from Assam Rifles arrived and evacuated them to a community hall near the DC office complex in Tuibong before moving on.

Around 8:30 pm, a large mob approached the community hall.

Thaba, quickly reacted and guided her grandkids to the rooftop of the communi ty hall, where they sought safety as the mob ransacked the premises and assaulted civilians.

Some Meetei civilians managed to contact Assam Rifles, prompting their arrival and subsequent evacuation to the secretariat office.

They spent the night there before being transported to Kwakta the following day.

Thaba recounted the traumatic experience, visibly shaken by the memories.

Despite diminishing hopes of survival, she mustered the courage to shield her grandkids, bringing nothing with them except the clothes on their backs.

Since then, Thaba's grandkids have suffered panic attacks whenever they hear uns'hots, tear gas, stun ombs.

They also experi ence fear upon encountering public gatherings or mobs.

They were previously residing in a relief camp near INA Moirang.

The frequent sounds of firing near Moirang area turned into a nightmare for them.

When Thaba heard about the Peace Committee Wangkhei setting up a relief camp in Imphal, she relocated to Palace Compound on June 12 .

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