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They and others were caught up in the vortex of ethnic clashes between the majority Hindu Meitei community and the minority Christian Kuki-Zomi tribe that have engulfed the remote state of Manipur, next to the border with Myanmar.

“I cannot carry on God, please help me,” a mother says as she struggles to understand what has happened to her family.

Her pain and trauma is unimaginable. Her 21-year-old daughter was gang raped, assaulted and paraded naked by a mob in northeast India.

Her husband and 19-year-old son were bludgeoned to death when they tried to save her.


They and others were caught up in the vortex of ethnic clashes between the majority Hindu Meitei community and minority Christian Kuki-Zomi tribe that have engulfed the remote state of Manipur, next to the border with Myanmar.

When their village was attacked and burnt, they tried to escape but were caught by a mob. Women were made to strip at gunpoint.


In a statement shared with Sky News, the young woman said the men shouted “if you don’t take your clothes off, we will burn you alive”.

A viral video of the incident that shows the horrific crime has caused outrage across the nation.


In an interview with Sky News, her mother wept, saying “my daughter is mentally not stable, she’s finding it difficult to cope, no words can express her condition”.

The bodies of her husband and son and of 90 other victims are still in hospital mortuaries in the state capital, Imphal


She continued: “I wish is that we no longer live together with those who raped and murdered us, I want to see the remains of my husband and son and give them a proper burial.”

There is no closure for Theim and Thang Piang, parents of 21-year-old university student Hanglalmuan Vaiphei.

He was picked up by the police for sharing a Facebook post criticising the chief minister and was whisked away to a jail in the capital.

While returning from a court date under police custody he was snatched by a mob and beaten to death.


“He should have been alive today, even in this conflict,” Theim says, breaking down. “After all he was in the custody of the police and the government.

“I miss him so much, I am now broken emotionally, physically and mentally. Every time we are at the table I expect him to join me,” she says.

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University student Hanglalmuan Vaiphei

She is not alone. At least 130 people have been killed in the ethnic clashes and there are no signs of it stopping.

In the Imphal valley, Meira Paibis or the “Women Torch bearers” comprising of Meitei mothers are gaining a notorious reputation of being vigilantes. They are revered for guarding the moral values of the community but are now at the forefront of this agitation.

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They are everywhere, conducting stop and search on vehicles even including military trucks and soldiers.

Anima, a leader at one of the check posts in Bishnupur tells Sky News: “We are checking for weapons and bomb making materials that are being smuggled for the Kukis.”


On the video of the naked women being paraded, Anima says: “We absolutely condemn that incident. We burnt the house of the main perpetrator.

“But what about our girls that were raped and made homeless? We don’t have evidence or videos. Why is everyone so pre-occupied with that video only?”


Violence spares no one. Hijam Singh, a Meitei from Imphal, is desperate for any news of his 17-year-old daughter.

Luwangbi Linthoingambi went missing more than three weeks ago after attending one of her classes. She and her friend were last seen on a motorbike going towards a tribal area.

“I feel she is very much alive, even when people say she would be dead. I feel she is alive,” he says.

He says he is still hopeful as there have been no recoveries of her bag, clothes or a body. He has knocked on doors but for many like him there are more questions than answers in Manipur today.


Choking up, he says: “If my daughter is killed they may consider it a win. But if I can forgive that can also be a victory.”

Sky News

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