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Manipur violence: Inmates at relief camps cry to return homes

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GUWAHATI, Aug 27: Restless victims of Manipur’s three-month-
long ethnic strife housed in cramped makeshift relief camps are
demanding the state government solves the imbroglio so that
they can go back home.
Some victims also do not want to shift to the temporary
accommodation that the government has offered, saying that
they will never be able to return to their homes if they move to
these new prefabricated dwelling units.
At the Thongju Kendra Relief Camp set up at Ideal Girls College
in Akampat of Imphal East district, some inmates from
Tengnoupal and Churachandpur districts told PTI that they “do
not have faith in the state government’s assurance on
rebuilding their homes.”
“It has been more than three months we are living in relief
camps. How long are we going to stay here? We need our home
back. Our people were murdered, now we need justice,” said
Sanatambi, who hails from the India-Myanmar border town of
Nganthoibi (24) and her family from Churachandpur also want
to go back to their home now as they do not want to stay at the
relief camp in “inhuman conditions”.

“I have a six-member family — husband, 7-month-old baby,
father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law — all are here in
the relief camp. On May 3, our house was burnt and we could
collect nothing while fleeing from the place. We have lost
everything in this clash,” she told PTI over the phone.
She claimed that many inmates in the relief camp are willing to
move to the temporary houses that the government has
constructed at different locations despite assurances from the
administration of shifting them to their respective homes in
future when the situation normalises.
“We don’t trust the government, we don’t know for how long it
will be in those temporary locations. We want to go back to our
own houses. We are tired of the government’s assurances and
don’t see any hope from them,” Nganthoibi said.
“We want to go back to Moreh to our homes. This town was
the No 2 in revenue collection for Manipur after Imphal. If this
violence continues, India is going to lose heavily. The BJP is
responsible for the situation that Manipur is witnessing today.
“In the case of Moreh, there has been no town committee
election for the last 10 years. All the Marwaris and Punjabis
have fled the town, and the Tamilian people left after this
present violence began,” Ingobi Singh (75) from Moreh said.

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Moreh, one of the fastest growing towns in Manipur, in
Tengnoupal district, is predominantly a Kuki town with a
sizeable number of Tamils and other communities like Punjabis.
It’s a multi-religious town with Christians being the majority,
followed by Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains.
“How long are we going to suffer like this? We appeal to the
government to bring peace as soon as possible. We want to go
back to our homes at Churachandpur,” said Rajen Huiram (37)
from the hill district.
On August 23, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had said
that the prefabricated houses built for those affected by
violence are not a permanent arrangement and were
constructed to ease the hardship faced by those living in relief
He had handed over the temporary shelter homes to over 300
families at Sajiwa Jail Complex in Imphal East district. The
victims were staying at various relief camps in the same area.
The prefabricated houses, being built at eight sites, are ready-
made structures that are constructed off-site and assembled at
the place where the homes will be set up.
Singh had said that 320 houses have been built at Kwakta in
Bishnupur district, 400 at Sajiwa and 200 at Sawombung in

Imphal East, while 400 such houses were constructed at Yaithibi
Loukol in Thoubal district.
The chief minister had also said there would be a little delay in
Kangpokpi and Churachandpur districts.
Two sites have been considered for 700 families in Kangpokpi
district. For Churachandpur too, a site for construction is
identified, he had added.
More than 160 people lost their lives and several hundreds
were injured since ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May
3, after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill
districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for
Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population
and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals — Nagas and Kukis –
– constitute little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts.

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