India’s Manipuris Face No Choice but to Stay Away from Home a Year after Escaping Violence


Lingneifel Vaiphei crumpled to the ground in anguish upon seeing her lifeless infant son’s body resting on a cold steel stretcher in a mortuary in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, India. The six-month-old baby, Steven, wrapped in a striped woollen shawl worn by the Kuki-Zo tribe, had passed away, his face turning blue.

With tears streaming down her face, the 20-year-old mother kissed her child’s face as she carried him towards an ambulance, accompanied by her husband, Kennedy Vaiphei. The family made their way to a burial ground, 4 miles away, where they laid their only child to rest. Nine months after moving to Chennai to escape violence, Lingneifel and Kennedy were faced with a nightmare beyond their imagination.

Less than 24 hours earlier, on the night of April 25, the couple had rushed Steven to Kilpauk Medical Hospital due to his worsening fever, but the infant died on the way in his mother’s arms before they reached the hospital.

Steven was born in Chennai, far from their home in Manipur, where deadly ethnic clashes between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo tribes have been raging for a year. Lingneifel and Kennedy had to leave their village and rebuild their lives in Chennai amidst the strife, where Lingneifel works in a local restaurant and Kennedy struggles to find employment.

As tensions continue to escalate in Manipur, driving more Kuki-Zo people to seek refuge in other cities like Chennai, a support network is slowly emerging to assist the displaced. Haoneithang Kipgen, a member of this network, has created a transit home in his Chennai apartment for those displaced by the violence, including himself.

Despite the government’s denial of involvement in the violence, critics point to the BJP’s role in exacerbating the conflict in Manipur. The ongoing turmoil and displacement have taken a heavy toll on the state, with accusations of election rigging and militarization by armed groups.

As the crisis deepens, calls for peace and dialogue have grown louder, with many urging a resolution to the divide between the hill and valley communities through peaceful means rather than relying on the government or armed groups. Amind the chaos, the hope for peace remains a beacon of light in the midst of darkness.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here