Nursing student Chiingsianching Khongsai was folding clothes in her halls of residence when she first heard the sounds of the mob outside. She had seen news headlines about the ethnic violence spreading across India’s Manipur state the day earlier, but never imagined it would reach the capital Imphal so quickly.
The 19-year-old, a member of the Kuki tribe studying in a city dominated by the majority Meitei community, was in mortal danger. “A mob of seven [Meitei] people were banging on the hostel gate and trying to break in,” she recalls in an emotional interview with The Independent at her home in Pangjol village in Churachandpur.
The mob quickly got inside and started forcing students out of their rooms to gather in the foyer, where they then segregated them into two groups – Kukis and Meiteis. Khongsai was initially mistaken for a Meitei, she says. “I gave a sigh of relief, thinking I am safe.” But as she was walking back upstairs with the Meiteis, one of the men from the mob asked for her identity card again.
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