Meitei rape victim recalls ordeal
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, September 11 2023: Fear, disgust and anxiety have been her companions for all these months, said Leima (name changed) a Meitei resident from Churachandpur who survived a gang-rape by Kukis in the evening of May 3 .

The 37 year old Leima, who has not been herself since the horrific experience, said those involved in outraging her modesty to fuel their agenda of "Separate Administration" should be awarded capital punishment.

Speaking to The Sangai Express, the mother of three (one daughter, 2 sons) said her world has turned upside down after the incident.

Leima, who ran a local hotel (tea and snack shop) in a Meitei locality until May 3, said she was taking rest in the evening of the fateful day after attending "Lai Haraoba" festival in the locality.

But suddenly a team of policemen carried out a publicity drive informing them to shut the shops and hotels and remain indoors in the locality in view of the prevailing tension, she said.

As soon as they heard the police, she told her 13 year old daughter (eldest child) to prepare supper quickly in the face of the volatile situation, she said.

By 6.30 pm, they were in the middle of their meal, but started hearing people loitering in their localities and striking poles.

They were gripped by fear with the unwanted signal they were receiving and her sister-in-law suggested leaving the place as soon as possible, she said.

Leaving the meal unfinished, those present at the home went to the upper floor of the rented shop cum house to hide and peeked through a window to inspect whatever was happening, she narrated.

They saw hundreds of Kukis vandalising and hurling petrol bombs at Meitei residences at some distance.

As the sounds of explosions rang inside the houses and cries for help got closer, they finally decided to leave their house, she said.

She had her niece on her back and held her two sons as they were fleeing the shop but she stumbled and her leg got got twisted few hundred meters from their earlier station.

On seeing it, her sister in law who was ahead of her turned back and rushed to help her, she said.

As she was injured, she handed over her niece and her sons to her sister-in-law and told her to move on with the children as she would take a little longer to get up and follow them, she said.

Moments after her sister-in-law left and as she was struggling to stand up, 6 Kukis turned up and surrounded her.

They hurled abuses, groped her from behind before taking turns to sexually assault her, she recalled with disgust.

She fainted as the fifth man carried out the bestial crime on her and was unsure whether the 6th man did the same or not, she said.

She found herself on the bed of an acquaintance surrounded by some people when she gained consciousness, she said.

It is said that she was found by some volunteers who were tasked to gather all Meiteis following the violent incidents, she said.

She went through a terrible time recalling the incident in the following days, she said.

They missed the first rescue team of the Army but was evacuated along with others from the place by the second rescue team, she said.

Their suffering did not end there as they witnessed thousands of armed Kukis raising battle cries and pelting stones at the vehicles they were travelling on the way up to Kwakta, she said.

After reaching Moirang, she went to the maternal residence of her mother-in-law and stayed there for three days before taking shelter at a relief camp opened at Moirang Lamkhai.

After a month, they shifted to a relief camp in Mekola, she said.

It was at the relief camp that she started experiencing abdominal pain and visited a local Primary Health Centre.

She then went to the RIMS again and underwent some medical tests before consulting a Gynaecologist at JNIMS as her pain persisted.

She finally shared her ordeal with the doctor who advised her to lodge an FIR regarding the incident, she said.

She took her time to reflect on this as she was helpless but managed to lodge an FIR at Bishnupur PS on August 9, she said.

She held her secret for long from her husband but had to narrate the incident to him.

He was very furious at the beginning but eventually helped her file the FIR, she said.

"I am very afraid whether I will test positive for HIV following the sexual assault carried out by the Kukis.

My husband continues to stand for me but still it is very unsettling deep inside me," said a dejected Leima.

What will make her rest is to see the criminals get befitting punishment, she said while expressing suspicion that many Meitei women may have fallen victim on May 3.She also called upon all similar victims to come out and fight together for justice.

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