Man survives Kuki assault, wants to defend state
Source: Chronicle News Service / Mission Oinam

Imphal, September 05 2023: It was the dark night of June 13 that claimed lives of nine village volunteers inside an abandoned under-construction church in Khamenlok village in an attack carried out by a group of Kuki militants, which later came to be known as Khamen-lok Massacre by many.

The incident became one of the most shocking incidents of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the state.

It was on this fateful night that 29-year-old Hijam Shanker became part of the village volunteers' team that was attacked from three sides while they were taking a rest and preparing to have a meal, which never got to taste.

Shanker was hit by 29 pellets and was laying almost dead inside a dark room of the church.

Some Kuki militants entered the room and checked on him before leaving thinking that he is dead on seeing the multiple gunshot wounds.

But God has other plan for him as he survived the hellfire and as he is recovering from those wounds, Shanker still speaks of going to the frontline and joining the fight to protect the territory, identity and idea of Manipur.

He said that his blood still runs in his veins for the sake of his motherland.

Shanker is a resident of Khurai Kongpal Ningthoubung Leikai in Imphal East district.

He is the eldest among three children born to Hijam Chandrasen and Kamala.

He has a younger brother and a younger sister.

After retrieving him from the shoot-out location Shanker was rushed to Raj Medicity, where he got treatment.

Even though doctors managed to save his life and removed 10 bullets, 11 are still stuck and Shanker is still living with them at home.

Recalling the incident, Shanker told The People's Chronicle that they were sure that the night would be their last night the moment they came to know about their position, which had been surrounded by their adversaries.

But, they took up their arms and fought them.

Unfortunately, some of the guns they had including his got jammed and they could not defend themselves.

He said that he will go to the frontline and join the fight to protect the territory of the state once he is fully recovered.

Shanker further said, it was on June 10 that they heard about an armed attack by Kuki militants in the Meetei villages located in the periphery of northern hills.

He along with three other friends went there and defended the villages.

It was on the third night that the incident occurred after they pushed off the Kuki militants deep inside their areas.

They proceeded beyond Khamenlok on the night and retreated to Khamenlok to stay the night.

There were 24 of them.

Some of them had returned and some stayed back.

At around 10.30 pm, they talked through the walkie talkie sets about having the meal in multiple groups.

A little before midnight, the Kuki militants launched their attack.

There were 13 of them inside the under construction church.

As they were preparing to have the meal, they heard sounds of gunfire.

They tried to communicate over the walkie talkie enquiring who was firing.

They got a response saying "Eikhoigini" which translates to "Ours".

They thought that the response was from their fellow volunteers but it turned out to be a deceptive response from the Kuki militants.

Shortly after the response, the church came under attack from three sites.

Some of them shouted, "Meetei people come out! Let us kill you!" It was the moment they knew that they have been surrounded.

Since the church was still under construction, there were no doors or windows or light.

There was total darkness.

At first, they fought back but their guns got jammed.

At that moment, everybody that moved got hit.

One of the local youths, named Narendra was hit and he along with his friend Prashanta dragged him inside a corner of the church.

The Kuki militants were relentless in their attack and they used flashlights to look for survivors.

Amid the attack, he got hit and fell on the ground semi-conscious.

After about half an hour, around 20 of them entered the church and shot the survivors.

He was lying on the ground with bloods all over his body including his neck.

Seeing his condition, they did not shoot him anymore whereas Prashanta and Narendra were slain.

As another team of Meetei village volunteers was about to reach the spot on hearing the gunfight, the assailants took mobile phones and wallets of the dead, and left hurriedly.

After which the rescue team evacuated them and Shanker was rushed to Raj Medicity.

However, there are still 11 pellets of single barrel rifle in his body - four in his neck, one on face and six in abdomen, which doctors were reluctant to remove through surgery due to the risk factor.

After hearing his condition, people from different sections of the society came and extended financial assistance for his further treatment.

He is now undergoing treatment at AIIMS Delhi with support from social activist Nongthombam Rajendro.

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