Almost one month after a major of the Indian Army’s 44 Assam Rifles company was accused of killing a civilian resident of the Chalwa village, in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district, the terms of a compromise agreement—including compensation to the victim’s family—are yet to be fulfilled. On 4 June, Alok Sathe, the commanding officer of the E Company of the 44 Assam Rifles posted at Kangpoki’s Banglabung outpost, shot and killed 29-year-old Mangboilal Lhouvum, a father of four, according to locals. The Assam Rifles has claimed that the incident took place during an anti-insurgency operation to capture members of the insurgent group Kuki Revolutionary Army, and that it has ordered an inquiry into the matter. But according to Mangboilal’s family, local residents and civil-society organisations, there were no KRA members or insurgent activities at Chalwa, and the incident was yet another instance of abuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the state.
Six days after Mangboilal’s death, I spoke to his wife, Neikhochong, over a video call. She looked at the ground as she spoke, softly, with long gaps in between sentences. “It is a very difficult situation for me,” she said. “I am wondering how I will bring up these four kids. I am still in a state of shock.” Their eldest daughter is seven years old and studies in kindergarten in a local government school. The three younger children are aged six, three and one, respectively. During the call, the youngest child was crying in the background, while another watched me with curiosity. The four children and their mother lived in a two-room thatched house, with one room serving as a living room, kitchen and dining area, and the other one as their bedroom.
Mangboilal worked as a handyman and earned approximately Rs 300 per day. He was the only earning member of the family. Neikhochong described him as “a hardworking person, a quiet man who liked to keep to himself.” With her eyes still on the ground, she added in a low voice, “I want justice for my husband’s death.”