Imphal: In the secluded hills of Manipur, the village of Kwatha, inhabited by the Meitei community, has become a poignant symbol of an unprecedented crisis, isolated from the rest of the state for the past seven months. Situated near the Indian-Myanmar border in Tengnoupal district, Kwatha’s plight reflects the profound impact of state-wide violence that erupted on May 3, 2023.
The Manipur High Court recently stepped in, responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Kongjengbam Chingkham of Singjamei, Imphal, shedding light on the dire situation in Kwatha. Home to 370 residents, this Meitei village is now cut off from essential resources and livelihood opportunities, trapped within the confines of communal strife.
The villagers find themselves at the epicentre of tensions between the Meiteis and the Kukis, with the violence rendering Kwatha inaccessible to the outside world. The once-vibrant community is now grappling with the harsh reality of severed ties with the rest of Manipur. Residents are unable to sell their products or leave the village, exacerbating their plight.
For the people of Kwatha, life has come to a standstill. The PIL reveals the heart-wrenching stories of individuals unable to escape the turmoil, as their village transforms into a battleground of unresolved conflict. The Court, recognizing the urgency of the situation, is scheduled to hear the PIL on January 24, 2024, offering a glimmer of hope for a community in distress.
Situated approximately 80 km from Imphal and 6 km from Moreh, Kwatha’s geographic isolation compounds the challenges faced by its residents. The region, already underdeveloped and remote, now grapples with the added burden of being a casualty of ongoing strife.
Advocate Naorem Umakanta Singh and his associates, representing the petitioner, will present the case before the Court, seeking intervention to alleviate the suffering of Kwatha’s inhabitants. As the date of the hearing approaches, there is a collective hope that justice will prevail, providing a lifeline to a village silenced by the echoes of conflict.
The story of Kwatha is a stark reminder of the far-reaching consequences of unrest, as a once-thriving community fights for survival against the backdrop of geopolitical complexities. It is a call to action, urging the authorities to address the root causes of the violence and restore normalcy to a village that has become synonymous with isolation and despair.
It should be mentioned that the violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, 2023. The communal strife has taken the lives of over 180 persons and over a thousand were critically injured. More than 60000 people were internally displaced and battling their lives in makeshift camps. Even though the situation has improved in the last couple of weeks, it will take a longer time to restore complete peace and normalcy in the tiny northeastern state.