Imphal: In a tragic turn of events, the serene hills of Haotak Mapallok Chakpi Ching in Manipur became the backdrop for a horrifying incident. Four villagers, driven by the necessity to collect firewood, embarked on what should have been a routine task. However, the tranquillity of their endeavour was shattered, as three of these individuals were discovered brutally shot dead. In the shocking incident which took place on January 11, four Meitei villagers from Bishnupur district fell victim to a brutal attack by suspected Kuki militants while collecting firewood in the Haotak Mapallok Chakpi Ching area.
The victims, identified as Thoudam Ibomcha (51), his son Thoudam Anand (20), Oinam Romen (38), and Ahanthem Dara (55), ventured into the Haotak Mapallok Chakpi Hill near Wangoo Sabal under the Kumbi police station. Tragically, only the bodies of Ibomcha, Anand, and Romen have been discovered so far, with Dara’s whereabouts still unknown.
The woodcutters, driven by poverty, left for their routine firewood collection but never returned. Their bullet-ridden bodies were found separately on a path in Haotak Mapallok Chakpi Ching, suggesting a ruthless and calculated attack.
Ahanthem Shantakumar, son of the missing villager Ahanthem Dara, expressed concern and shared that his father went for wood collection daily. A combined effort involving State forces and village volunteers is underway to locate the missing man.
The Kumbi Kendra Command and Control Committee women’s wing president, Y Joykumari, expressed shock and deep sorrow over the cold-blooded murder of the innocent woodcutters. She highlighted their dire economic circumstances, emphasising that they resorted to collecting firewood due to poverty.
Condemnation has poured in from various civil society bodies, strongly denouncing the killing of the three Meitei villagers by suspected Kuki militants in the Haotak area. Kumbi police have deposited the three recovered bodies at RIMS mortuary in Imphal, intensifying efforts to locate Ahanthem Dara and bring justice to the grieving community.
This tragic incident sheds light on the vulnerability of communities compelled to undertake perilous tasks for basic necessities, calling for increased security measures and community support in conflict-prone regions.
The fate of the fourth woodcutter, Ahanthem Dara (55), remains unknown, casting a sombre shadow over the tight-knit community. This chilling incident also underscores the vulnerability of individuals engaged in basic survival activities in the trouble-hit state, raising questions about the safety and security of those compelled by circumstances to undertake such perilous tasks.