In a powerful display of unity and determination, thousands of women gathered at the Sekmaijin Bazar bridge to stage a sit-in protest, effectively blocking the road. The demonstration was prompted by the shocking disappearance of two young individuals from the area, whose brutal killings were captured in videos circulating on Facebook, allegedly at the hands of Kuki militants. The missing youths, Sagolsem Ngaliba and Irengbam Chinkheingamba, both from Sekmaijin Khunou in Kakching district were last seen on July 4, and their whereabouts remained unknown.
Thounaojam Ayangleima Chanu, one of the women protesters, expressed her outrage at the viral videos, stating, “We have been deeply concerned about the safety of these two youths since July 4, given the ongoing situation in the state. To our dismay and horror, we witnessed on Facebook two viral videos showing our children being tortured and mercilessly slain by Kuki militants, shot in the head and dumped into a pit. We have witnessed this brutality, and it is unbearable.”
Ms. Chanu stressed the significance of the sit-in protest, emphasizing that they could not allow their youth to perish in such a manner. “We cannot stay silent. That’s why we organized this protest, to voice our anguish. We are deeply hurt by the way the state and central governments are handling the situation in Manipur.”
Furthermore, the protester criticized the state government for its failure to control the situation when it initially erupted in the Churachandpur district on May 3. Pointing out that the state government could have sought assistance from central forces to quell the violence in its early stages, Ms. Chanu questioned the “silence” of the state government as the violence continued, wreaking havoc on lives for over two months.
“Is the chief minister of Manipur a mere puppet of the central government?” Mr. Chanu asked, posing the question they wanted to ask the union government. She voiced the growing belief that the state government was dancing to the tune of the central government and questioned why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had remained silent, failing to address the current situation where both Kuki and Meitei communities have suffered casualties and witnessed their homes reduced to ashes.
Ms. Chanu further questioned the motive behind Mr. Modi’s foreign visits while state leaders, womenfolk, and lawmakers of Manipur went to meet him in New Delhi. She challenged his audacity to leave India, giving importance to foreign affairs, by asking, “Isn’t this his land? Isn’t Manipur a part of India?”
Emphasizing the bravery of the women force, Ms. Chanu declared, “If the government is unable to control the situation, they should remove all security forces. We, the women, are ready to pick up arms, be it a spade or a dao, and confront the Kuki militants. Withdraw the Indian security forces, Assam Rifles, and let us save our land ourselves.”
The protesters announced their intention to submit a memorandum to the Manipur Chief Minister and Deputy Commissioner, demanding that all available resources be deployed to locate the remains of the two youths within three days so that their families can perform their last rites.