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'Waited 8 Months to Bury Him,' Says Wife of Man Killed by Mob in Imphal, Manipur

Chingneihmoi Zou's husband was one of the first casualties of the ethnic violence that erupted on 3 May last year.

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Video Editor :Abhishek Sharma

Cameraperson: Jehos Dymz

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

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"Before my husband's body arrived, in my heart, I never thought I would be able to see him again. But, when I think about it, the fact that his body was airlifted to Lamka [Churachandpur], and we were able to bury him, gives me a sense of comfort and relief."

Twenty-six-year-old Chingneihmoi Zou in Manipur's Churachandpur had to wait eight months to bury her husband Thanghoulal.

It was neither tradition nor an act of protest. Going to Imphal to retrieve Thanghoulal's body would mean risking her life.

Violence erupted in Manipur on 3 May 2023 – one day short of exactly a year from today. Thanghoulal was one of the first casualties.

On 4 May, BJP MLA Vungzagin Valte was allegedly ttacked by a mob in the state's capital Imphal. While Valte survived and was airlifted to a hospital in Delhi, Thanghoulal, who worked as his driver, was brutally lynched. He died on 5 May.

When The Quint met Zou, a mother of two children, in June last year, sitting in front of a banner remembering her husband, she had said,

"The pictures were so difficult to look at. His face was completely disfigured, they had stabbed him in his stomach. To date, I've not seen my husband's dead body."
Chingneihmoi Zou's husband was one of the first casualties of the ethnic violence that erupted on 3 May last year.

Chingneihmoi Zou at her house in June 2023.

(Photo: Saptarshi Basak/The Quint)

Chingneihmoi Zou's husband was one of the first casualties of the ethnic violence that erupted on 3 May last year.

A banner remembering Thanghoulal, outside Chingneihmoi Zou's house in June 2023.

(Photo: Saptarshi Basak/The Quint)

Ten months on, when The Quint revisited her in Churachanpdur, Zou said that she had buried Thanghoulal in December.

On 20 December 2023, the bodies of 87 Kuki-Zo victims killed in the ongoing ethnic violence were airlifted from the morgues in Imphal to Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts. One of the 87 bodies was Thanghoulal's.

Chingneihmoi Zou's husband was one of the first casualties of the ethnic violence that erupted on 3 May last year.

A drone shot of the mass burial in Churachandpur in December 2023. 

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

"We got his body before Christmas. The Army had airlifted his body from Imphal and almost as soon as the body reached here, he was buried. He was kept [in the morgue] for one or two days and buried soon after," Zou said.

As an ode to her late husband, Chingneihmoi Zou wrote a song, and even recorded it. She, however, cannot monetarily afford to make a music video at the moment.

An uncle of hers, named Pa Thang, helped Zou record the song.

"I felt immense and overwhelming grief after the death of my husband. I am not even someone who can compose lyrics for a song. It is just that every time I used to cry, there was an outpouring of emotions. Eventually, all of that culminated in a song. I have an uncle, called Pa Thang, who knows how to string together melodies for a song, and I sought his assistance... I have been able to do the recording as well, and the song is more or less ready. But, given our dire situation, that we are not able to meet even our basic requirements, I am not yet in a position to allocate money to make a music video."
Chingneihmoi Zou
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When asked to provide a glimpse of the song, she said that one of the most heart-wrenching verses go like:

Where have you gone away... 

Your son is waiting and asking — 

Where are you, Papa?

Chingneihmoi Zou's husband was one of the first casualties of the ethnic violence that erupted on 3 May last year.

Chingneihmoi Zou's two little boys.

(Photo: Jehos Dymz)

Chingneihmoi Zou's husband was one of the first casualties of the ethnic violence that erupted on 3 May last year.

Chingneihmoi Zou with her two children.

(Photo: Jehos Dymz)

"And, the other one," she continued, "is, where before he left, we promised each other that we would see each other again." 

We promised each other that we would see 

each other again... 

Where have you gone now?

As a mother who needs to tend to her two children, Chingneihmoi Zou lamented that she has no means of earning, and there is nobody in the house to earn money for the house.

"We can’t say anything about what lies ahead and the future, but what I want is for my children to become slightly older to become a bit more self-sufficient, so that I can also do whatever work is possible for me to do. But, at present, I cannot leave my kids alone and I need to be with them to provide them care. My husband’s family is collectively helping me with whatever they can afford, and we can manage through the kindness and generosity of some."
Chingneihmoi Zou

Manipur Police officials told The Quint that while there is an FIR in relation to the mob attack on Vungzagin Valte and Thanghoulal, not a single arrest has been made till date.

[For a year now, Manipur has been torn apart by ethnic violence. Hundreds have died, and thousands have been displaced, with their future still uncertain. As Manipur violence touches the one-year mark on 3 May 2024, The Quint is back on the ground in pursuit of facts, untold stories, and the truth. Apart from the risks involved in reporting from a conflict-ridden area, such reports require both time and resources. YOUR support helps us in our endeavour.]

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Video Editor :Abhishek Sharma
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