A stomach-churning video has captured the gruesome brutality on a Naga woman on July 15 by a mob in Manipur that kept shooting at her till her head was blown into pieces, with the attackers appearing to say, “No more head. This way of killing is nice.”
The 1.31-minute video shows the woman, identified by her family as M. Lucy Maring, 55, lying near a bush as at least 20 shots are fired at her from what sounded like an automatic rifle till there was nothing left of her head.
To her sister Marim Joice, whom The Telegraph contacted in Delhi on Sunday, going through the shocking video was like reliving the ordeal of losing a close family member twice over. “We got the video on July 23 and it was a shock to see such brutality,” she said over the phone.
The video has been doing the rounds on social media since Friday.
Nine persons, including five women, were arrested last month in the suo motu case registered at Lamlai police station in Imphal East district.
The funeral of M Lucy Maring at her native Beaulahram village in Tengnoupal district on July 19. File picture
Lucy belonged to the Naga tribe Maring. The Nagas have remained neutral in the ongoing conflict between the majority Meiteis, mostly inhabiting the valley districts, and the Kukis, predominantly living in the hills like the Nagas.
Lucy’s brutal killing had sparked off concern and tension among the Nagas in Manipur, on the boil since May 3, but the matter was resolved through the prompt intervention of leading civil society organisations of both communities — the United Naga Council and the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (a Meitei outfit). The state government had also been part of the resolution process.
According to her family, Lucy was picked up by a group and taken to Sawombung in Imphal East, about 10km from her home in Imphal West where she lived with her mother and brother. Details are sketchy but a Meitei mob, including women, had allegedly questioned Lucy about her identity.
“A Naga brother from Ukhrul on the way to Imphal saw a crowd with a woman in the middle. He spoke to her to know her identity. He even called up people in her native village. He then told the crowd that she was a Naga and no harm should come to her. The crowd said they would hand her over to Lamlai police station,” Joice’s husband and Lucy’s brother-in-law, Henry Gonmei, told this newspaper.
“The Naga brother left the place hoping everything would be fine. But he too was surprised when he heard about her death. Her body was recovered from a secluded area a little away from where she had been accosted by the mob. We came to know that the women in the mob had handed her over to another group,” Henry said.
Those heard in the video, according to Henry, were speaking in Meitei. “We could hear them say, ‘shoot, it’s ok’; ‘closer closer’; ‘where to bury?’; ‘No more head. This way of killing is nice’; and ‘Let’s go’.”
When Lucy’s family members went to the morgue, they saw a headless body. “Initially, we thought she had been beheaded. We identified her by her clothes, build and shoes. After we saw the video, we were shocked once again at how such an inhuman treatment and gruesome murder could be committed on a helpless woman like her,” Henry said.
The family wants speedy and timely justice and exemplary punishment to those involved so that innocent people, especially women and children, irrespective of their tribes and communities, are not targetted again, Joice said.
“The dead will not return but timely and exemplary punishment will serve as a deterrent against such inhuman acts and prevent a repeat in the future,” she said.
The conflict has claimed at least 165 lives and displaced 60,000 people so far and the situation remains volatile till this day. Earlier in July, another video had emerged of a mob parading two Kuki women naked and sexually assaulting her, which prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence on the then over-two-month-old Manipur violence.
Henry said on Sunday: “My sister-in-law Lucy was the first Naga to have been killed in the conflict and we hope and pray that she is the last. We don’t want the Naga community to be dragged into the conflict and we want peace in Manipur.”
He dismissed claims that Lucy was a victim of mistaken identity. It had initially been reported that the mob had mistaken her for a Kuki. “She was killed even after it was proved that she was a Naga. She was killed because she was a tribal,” Henry said.
The nine persons arrested in connection with Lucy’s killing have been booked under multiple IPC sections including murder, rioting and kidnapping with intent to murder, and under the Arms Act. They are in judicial custody.
M Lucy Maring lying dead moments before 20 bullets were pumped into her head.
Joice said it had been very difficult for the family to cope with the developments, especially Lucy’s daughter, a Class X student studying in a boarding school, her mother and elder brother. “They are inconsolable. It has been traumatising. She was very cool and calm, never got mad at us even when we made mistakes,” Joice said.
One of several men seen walking in the video. Only their legs are visible. File picture
She added: “We want speedy justice and exemplary punishment of those involved. We are from the Naga community and we are neutral in this conflict. We want peace. There should be dialogue to sort out the differences. Violence will only beget violence. Killing will only lead to killing, not solution.”
The family is planning a memorial for Lucy on her first death anniversary at her native place at Beaulahram village in Tengnoupal district where she was buried on July 19. “We want the memorial to serve as a reminder to people that such inhuman acts are not repeated because it is very painful,” Henry said.