In India’s riot-hit Manipur, Muslims stuck between warring groups (ALJAZEERA)

Meitei Pangals, as the community is known in Manipur, have been caught in the ethnic crossfire for more than a month.


Manipur, India – Samim Sahni was sitting outside her brick house last week, hunched over a radio along with a dozen of her neighbours, listening to the 7.30pm news broadcast when they heard a bullet whiz by.

The 25-year-old mother of two children – a seven-year-old son and a toddler daughter – rushed inside her house in Kwakta town of Manipur state’s Bishnupur district in northeastern India.

Chaos ensued and others who had gathered to hear the news began running helter-skelter even as the firing continued.

“We hid behind the bed for some time. Then between 10.30pm and 11pm we got out and went and hid in the mosque. We only got back in the morning,” she told Al Jazeera.

After returning to her house, Sahni and her husband noticed half a dozen bullet holes lining the side of the entrance to their house.

“We didn’t want to come back but we don’t really have a choice,” said Sahni.

Meitei Pangals in Manipur
Samim Sahni with her family outside her house in Kwakta’s Islamabad area [Angana Chakrabarti/Al Jazeera]

According to the authorities, nearly 100 people have been killed, 310 injured and more than 40,000 have been displaced in Manipur since May 3 as the remote Indian state witnessed ethnic clashes between the mainly-Hindu Meitei community and the Kukis who are mostly Christian.

The Meitis – who constitute about half of Manipur’s population of 3.5 million, as per India’s last census conducted in 2011 – are largely based in and around the state capital Imphal…

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