GWITE FAMILY STORY
Mrs. Aichhung Gwite 77 (Mother of Florence Lowe & Paukhanmung Gwite)
Mrs. Biakhoih Gwite, Analyst, Bank of Baroda 33 (Wife of Paukhanmung Gwite)
Miss Thianhoih Gwite, 13 (Children of Biakhoih & Paukhanmung)
Master Lian Gwite, 5 (Children…)
Miss Kim Gwite, 5 (Children…)
Master Thanson, 2 (Children…)
Miss Hoihnu, 17 (Live-in help)
Miss Teresa, 15 (Live-in help)
Mr. Martin Matei, Bank Officer, Punjab National Bank (Renters)
Mrs Matei, Teacher, 7 months pregnant (Renters)
Daisy the Chocolate Lab
Dates (local time):
From: May 3rd 5pm
To: May 5th
Home: Paite Veng, Imphal, Manipur
Camp: 1st (2nd?) Manipur Rifles Temporary Refugee Camp
As told to and summarized by Florence Nianghoihlun Lowe (nee Gwite), by Aichhung (Mom) & Biakhoih Gwite (Biak) . Note, my brother (Mung) who is a police officer with the Manipur Police Service was/is posted in Tamenglong and was not in Imphal during these events.
(Biak) On the evening of the 3rd of May at around 5pm, we started to fear that the events in Churachandpur might impact us in Imphal. I talked to Mung but at first he didn’t think anything would happen. I saw a facebook post that was inflammatory (“…lets kill them all…”), and sent him a screenshot of that (??) and he started to get worried too.
(Mom) At 6pm I was getting ready to go to dinner at Pa Khunchinpau’s house with your Ni (aunt) Ngaihlian, but talking to Biak, and also hearing from other people through WhatsApp, we decided not to go and we turned back home. At home, we turned to WhatsApp to see what we could learn.
(Biak) Everyone realized that with most of the police forces having been sent to Churachandpur, we were all in a very vulnerable position. By 8, we could hear a mob and stayed away from windows and huddled in an inner bedroom. It was very loud. The mob threw stones, furniture, rampaged. At one point they turned their attention to the Divisional Superintendent of Manipur of the Evangelical Baptist Convention Church’s compound [with which we share a boundary wall]; the garage [car port] is right behind our house and we could hear the thundering of the flames as they set the vehicles on fire. By this time the church was fully engulfed in flames. With the mob behind our house, we heard them pelting rocks at our windows. At some point, I crept out and locked the front gate, trying not to make a sound as ravaging mobs roamed our streets. They started to pelt rocks at our gate (which is steel) and it was so loud, the broke the windows of the upstairs floors. We huddled in the downstairs bedroom with all the lights turned off to try and make them think no one was home, and thought of what to do.
By 11:42pm, we decided we could not stay in the house and had to make a run for it. Mung called his friend who is meitei and lives down the street from us to our right; because the phone lines were not good and internet had been cut off, he gave me his number so I could coordinate directly with him. While the mob was focused on the church and garage behind us, I unlocked the gate, and moved out in the dark with our upstairs renters, all the children, and mom. As we opened the gate we saw a small splinter group approach us and the house from our left, there were one or two policemen around, so with their help we turned and ran to the right. I didn’t look back, but I think this was the first group that breached our family home and started the rampage, We went to our friend [Name Hidden for his protection] house, there were a few other people from the neighborhood who had taken shelter there too. He locked us in (for our protection) into a store room in their property.
(Mom) It was so dark, there were so many mosquitoes, and it was so dirty. But it could not be helped. We were safe.
(Biak) About 20(est) people entered this good mans compound and house and stayed for what seemed ages while he convinced them that there was no one they were interested in at his house. We were there for 3 to 4 hours. The children were so good. No one cried or made a fuss.
Around 2pm a commando (army? police?) team came and took us our in one vehicle. 11 of us huddled into the jeep with other people who were sheltering there as well. They took us to the 2nd MR (2nd? 1st?) where they had some couches and some blankets spread on the ground. We tried to get the kids to sleep.
[Mom] We stayed up all night on the couch and waited for dawn to break.
Me- This happened during my workday Wednesday May the 3rd. The first I heard of it was a text from my sister who was at a conference in Sikkim. I was in Richardson in my office. Her text said: “Have u spoken to mom today?” It was 1:26pm my time. I replied back “No what happened”. Then couldn’t wait so I dialed her number for a video call. She was in her hotel room, looking worried and biting her lower lip. She filled me in. I cried, she chided me for crying. We got to strategizing on how to help them.
I waited patiently until the morning, my evening, to call my brother, sister in law and my brother. It was a little hard to get through. We all decided they needed to move out of the city. My sister offered her house in Churachandpur, but rioters were still out and the 60-70 odd kms between Imphal and Lamka were not safe. We decided on Gwahati. My brother on the phone constantly from Tamenglong, coordinated with friends and fellow officers in Imphal and got them tickets and an ID for one of the girls who live with my family, and escorted them to the airport. They arrived in Guwahati that May the 4th evening.
Itemized Loss of Property:
3(4?) storied brick house (8 bedroom, 5 bathrooms) – burned, structure still standing,
Contents including furniture, clothes, purses, jewelry, electronics, kitchen ware – stolen, carted away, or burned
Jeep Compass – burned
Honda Amaze – burned
Vespa motor cycle – burned
Mature trees – Mango tree – burned
Mature trees – Other – burned