About 40 km from Imphal, Phougakchao village in Manipur’s Bishnupur district has been witness to rampant firing and bombing from the neighbouring Kuki-dominated hills, which intensified this week. On July 25, an 18-year-old boy Lonjam Naocha Singh got severely injured by shrapnel as a bomb cracked through the roof of his house in the village.
Minutes after the Newslaundry team arrived at Phougakchao on Wednesday, they could hear the bombings from a distance. Locals said the cross-firing and bombings occur through the night and have escalated in the past one week.
“Our village is so beautiful, people would come to see it. But now none of that is happening. Ninety percent of the village houses are burnt, only 10 percent remain. There were about 1,500 houses in the village earlier, only 15-20 are left now. Most of the villagers have left for the relief camps, only four or five of us remain here to look after the village,” said one of the village residents. Newslaundry saw charred houses that were reportedly burnt during the riots in May.
A Manipuri actor Rajkumar Kaiku told Newslaundry, “Kukis and Meiteis used to live in peace before the riots…But there are some differences internally that the government must know, if the government wants, they can solve the differences.”