In Wayanad, Rahul Gandhi recounts harrowing experiences during his visit to violence-hit Manipur
Wayanad (Kerala): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday recounted the harrowing experience he had encountered during his visit to violence-hit Manipur and said during his 19 years of political life, he had never come across such a situation.
Blaming the BJP for creating the deep division in the northeastern state, he said it may take at least five years to bring Manipur back on its feet.
Narrating the story of two women he had met in relief camps in the strife-torn state, Gandhi said one of them recollected how her son was murdered right in front of her eyes.
“One of the women, when I entered the room, was lying on the floor alone. Everyone else had some family member, but this lady was lying alone. So, I asked her about her family. She told me that she does not have anyone left,” Gandhi told a public meeting in Kalpetta here.
The meeting was organised by the Congress-led UDF alliance to welcome Gandhi on his first visit to Wayanad after his Lok Sabha membership was restored.
The Wayanad MP said that when he asked the woman what happened to her family, she did not answer for some time.
“She went quiet and didn’t say anything. So, I held her hand and asked what had happened to her. She said to me — I was sleeping in my village, and I was sleeping in my house with my little son. My son was killed in front of my eyes. They shot him right in front of my eyes, and then I spent the whole night lying next to my son’s corpse,” Gandhi said recollecting the woman’s agony.
Her son died in her arms and she did not know whether to stay with the dead body or run away to save herself, the former AICC president said, adding, “After some time, she decided that her son was not going to come back. She described how she escaped… how she was shot at. And all this time, she was shaking while talking to me.”
Gandhi posed a question to the people if something so painful has happened to our mothers, sisters, or any other women sitting here.
“Her house was burnt. She had lost everything and only had a picture of her son,” he said.
Sharing a similar story of another Manipuri woman, Gandhi said he was giving only two examples, but there were thousands of people who suffered such a fate in the northeastern state.
“She could see the images of her experience in her mind. I was imagining how I would feel if this happened to my mother or sister. She could not bear what she saw in her mind and fell unconscious. This is what the women of Manipur have experienced,” he said.
“I’ve been in politics for 19 years, and I’ve never experienced what I experienced in Manipur,” said Gandhi, recalling his visit to Manipur in June to the people displaced by the ethnic strife there.
“Somebody’s family members have been murdered; somebody’s house has been burnt. It is as if somebody threw kerosene on Manipur and set it on fire,” he said.
The Congress leader said in Manipur, before entering the Meitei area, he and the delegation led by him were told that “if any Kuki was there in our security team, he would be killed.”
“Similarly, before entering the Kuki area, we were told that if any Meitei was there in our security team, he would be shot dead. So, we had to remove Kukis from our security team before visiting the Meitei area. In the same manner, we had to remove Meiteis from our security team before visiting Kuki area.”
“There is a complete divide in Manipur. There is blood everywhere, there is murder everywhere, there is rape everywhere in the state,” Gandhi said.
He said it took two months to break Manipur, and it may take five years for rebuilding it. “But we will do it. It is going to be the difference between the BJP and the Congress,” he said.
Anybody who “murders” the idea of India cannot love India, he further said.