Sorokhaibam Ibetombi Maibi, an 80-year-old widow and the wife of freedom fighter S. Churachand Singh, was tragically burnt alive in Manipur’s Kakching district during the ongoing ethnic violence in the region. Churachand Singh, a member of the Indian National Army led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, was honored by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and awarded the Netaji Award in April 1997.
The armed assailants locked Ibetombi Maibi inside her house before setting it on fire. Her daughter-in-law, S. Tampaksana, stated that due to her old age and limited mobility, Ibetombi Maibi was unable to escape when the attackers arrived. The incident occurred in Serou village, located 48 km from the state capital, Imphal. The burnt bones of Ibetombi Maibi, along with half-burnt photographs, medals, mementos of Churachand Singh, and other valuables, serve as horrifying reminders of the tragedy.
The Manipur International Youth Centre (MIYC) brought attention to the tragic demise of Sorokhaibam Ibetombi, the wife of a freedom fighter who was reportedly burnt alive. The MIYC highlighted that no political leader, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressed any sympathy for the aged and helpless woman, despite her husband being a recipient of the All-India Freedom Fighter Tamrapatra Award. The organization criticized the lack of acknowledgment and condemned the incident, stating that the perpetrators cruelly locked all the doors from the outside before setting the house on fire.
This horrifying act is a result of the ethnic clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur, which have caused over 160 deaths and numerous injuries. The violence started in early May after protests against the High Court’s decision regarding the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes category. The Chief Minister of Manipur has expressed his commitment to restoring peace and bringing the perpetrators to justice.