Just as dawn broke on May 28, Douminthang Haokip and other residents of Haika L village in Chandel district set out for a nearby village, 7 km away.
It was, according to his brother Douthanglen Haokip, “public duty”.
The residents of the neighbouring village, Thingkangphai, were under attack and had called for help. “Several people, many of them armed, were coming from Imphal and trying to attack our villages,” said Douthanglen Haokip, a 36-year-old farmer and Douminthang’s brother.
Haika L village is a few kilometres from Sugnu, a town with a mixed population of Kukis and Meiteis in the foothills of Manipur. On May 28, the area saw heavy firing and several incidents of arson.
“The people of Thingkangphai asked us to come to their aid,” Douthanglen Haokip said. “One of our brothers too lived there. So, many villagers, including my brother, Douminthang, set out. He was carrying a single-barrelled gun.”
Even earlier, when fierce violence had broken out in Manipur on May 3, Douminthang, a 38-year-old farmer, had been at the forefront in protecting his village from mobs trying to burn down Kuki villages, said his brother.
But on the way to Thingkangphai, he was shot dead at Serou village around 4.30 am on May 28. “There…