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Meitei-Kuki couples separated by Manipur conflict face unclear futures one year later.

Inter-tribe couples are facing the cruel brunt of a conflict that has claimed more than 200 lives and displaced many thousands since May 3, 2023.

Manipur sIMPHAL: Monthly dates in Mizoram or maybe Assam if at all, single parenting and the constant fear of abandonment.

For Manipur’s Meitei-Kuki couples forced to live apart in ‘community’ enclaves, this is how life has been since ethnic clashes broke out in the state last May.

As crisis continues in the polarised state, where the Meitis are concentrated in Imphal Valley and the Kukis have moved to the hills around, inter-tribe couples are facing the cruel brunt of a conflict that has claimed more than 200 lives and displaced many thousands since May 3, 2023.

If a mother gets to see her children maybe once a month, there is a father who hasn’t seen his daughter since she was born.

And then there is the constant fear of family bonds being strained perhaps to breaking point with a wife wondering if her husband will abandon her and a couple contemplating what lies ahead for them as a unit.

The future stretches uncertain. Irene Haokip, for instance, is a Kuki who moved to Imphal after she got married.

One year on, the 42-year-old has moved to Churachandpur, a Kuki dominated area, to be with her family while her husband and their children, a five-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter, stay on in Imphal.

“My husband used to work as a construction contractor. I met him when a neighbour’s house in Bishnupur was getting constructed. We fell in love and he would come to the area to meet me often. We got married in 2018 and have two children,” Haokip told PTI.

Bishnupur is between Meitei dominated Imphal and Kuki dominated Churachandpur.

It earlier housed people from both communities and is now considered a buffer zone.

“My husband sent me to my parents’ home last year fearing for my safety in the valley when clashes broke out. There has been no going back since. The children are with him because we fear that they might not be safe in Churachandpur since they are Meitei children,” Haokip added.

She meets her family once a month in neighbouring Mizoram, travelling 15 hours each way.

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