“He was burnt alive,” sobbed Kim over the phone as she narrated the horrific manner in which her brother was killed on May 4 in Manipur.

The victim, Letminthang Haokip was a 26-year-old soft spoken man working as a tax assistant in the income tax department in Manipur’s capital Imphal. Belonging to the tribal Kuku-Zo community, he was unable to leave for a safer place on May 3 when violence escalated in the state after the High Court’s decision to give Schedule Tribe status to the majority Meitei community.

Kim recalled that the last words her brother said were, “They are going to kill me. The Meitei mob has surrounded the whole area.”

Kim is the eldest of the three siblings, Haokip being the middle one. While the siblings lost their father in 2016, their mother died last year. “She had cancer,” Kim said.

“My brother and I are very close. There was not a single day that we didn’t talk. Whenever either of us had free time, we were on a call,” the sister said, trying to hold back tears.

On May 3 as well, the brother and sister were on a call with each other. After repeated interactions it was decided that their cousin brother who worked in the army would pick Haokip up from the quarters.

“We had booked his ticket from Imphal for the next day. He was supposed to board it for Guwahati,” Kim added.

After speaking to Haokip the whole way into the morning on May 4, Kim asked her brother to take some rest. “I was feeling so helpless here. We were scared but there were hopes because it was a government quarters. We hoped nothing would happen. We could not have been more wrong,” Kim said.

Working in Maharashtra, Kim, who hails from Imphal, said that the distance was already too much and their brother’s safety was the only concern.

At 2.39 pm, her brother texted her: “Meiteis have gathered in the area.” Two minutes later, he texted, “They are raising slogans in the locality.” At 2.44 pm, he texted wondering whether “Meiteis are even guarding the airport”.

“Before that I was on call with him and he was very scared. I can not forget his voice even now. ‘They are going to kill me’ these were his last words to me,” she said sobbing.

According to Kim, her brother cut the call saying he was too scared they would hear him. “My cousin had reached the quarters earlier to pick him up, but due to miscommunication he was standing in a different alley as to the one where my brother was.

“Both were near to each other but with no internet and this miscommunication they could not meet,” Kim got to know after the cousin called her.

“They might have seen my brother standing because he ran inside his quarters after he and my cousin failed to meet,” Kim added.

According to what Kim was told by eyewitnesses who she said were “nice enough to pick up her call and tell her what happened”.

Kim requested the person to check on her brother who told her that half the things in this quarters were burnt. “I was told that my brother was dragged out of his quarters and beaten. There was a whole mob that beat him up…” she said before breaking down.

Somehow between breaks Kim said that after beating him up the mob burnt him alive. “We thought they would just beat him and leave him but they burned him alive. If they could just have left him after beating him that would also have been okay but they burned him,” Kim said.

Her only regret, she tells The Citizen over the phone, is that she was not there. “I will always blame myself. I could not do anything. He was killed. My parents died and God took away my brother as well. It is just me and my little sister now,” she said between tears.

Kim further said that his body was so charred that it was beyond recognition. “We later got confirmation it was my brother. His body still lies in the morgue. I am here far away not able to do anything,” she added.

Later that day, she was told her brother’s body had been found in the CWPD premises and that it would be shifted to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Lamphel.

Haokip had started the job in May this year, and was not well versed with the local areas. “My cousin who is in the army was also not safe because the mob was stopping even the army officials and checking whether they were Kuki,” Kim added.

It has been 2.5 months since his death, but Kim said it is hard accepting the reality. “He was such a nice boy. We were so close and I do not want to believe he is gone.

“Sometimes when I am praying, I tell God maybe he is alive. Maybe a good samaritan saved him and that he is alive somewhere,” Kim says softly.

She said that most of her closest friends are Meitei. “My brother used to speak in their language and my family used to joke about how he does not know his tribal language but he speaks in their language. My best friend is Meitei, but I have not heard one word from her,” she said.

Two days after Letminthang Haokip’s death, Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman had tweeted her condolences. “But what will tweeting about it do?”, Kim said.

“My brother is not the only one who died, so many people died this way. I was told about someone else who was burnt alive. People are dying and there is nothing the government is doing, not that I expect anything from them,” she said fiercely.

As the government had announced Rs. 5 lakh ex-gratia and a government job for the family member of the deceased Kim with anger in her voice said, “Is my brother’s life worth a government job? I don’t want your job, give me my brother back. I only want my brother,” she said.

Despite the registration of FIR, no investigation has begun and Kim has no idea what she is supposed to do from far away. “I have a home in Imphal but for whom shall I go there? My brother is no more, there is no one to go home to,” she added.

Kim has informed us that she will be reaching out to the Supreme Court as the "state and central government have failed to help them."

"I can only hope that the Supreme Court will help me get justice for my brother," she said.

As the situation remains tense in Imphal, people have aggressively started pointing fingers, especially at both the state and the Central government who have done little to nothing to slow down the situation.

Meanwhile, as the fourth day of the Parliament’s Monsoon Session started on Tuesday, Opposition MPs of the Rajya Sabha continued their sit-in protest over the suspension of Aam Aadmi Party’s Member of Parliament Sanjay Singh for the current session of the Parliament as well as the Manipur issue.

With the recent viral video of two Kuki women being paraded naked was shared, Manipur – which was mostly ignored by the mainstream media – has garnered attention again.

With internet blockage in the state since the violence started, voices of the people have been curbed with hardly any flow of information.

The government’s claim that the internet has been shut to control the social media posts has turned bogus, according to many experts who say that it is imperative to question the government and ask for evidence when it comes to internet shut down.

Speaking with The Citizen, Mishi Choudhary Founder of SLFC.in, a crowd funded legal services organisation to protect freedom in the digital world, said that despite the internet shutdown the violence could not be controlled for 80 days in the state and raises serious questions towards the government.

“This is the first action you (government) use in your tool kit, whenever there is a peaceful protest or if there is a kind of inkling that there might be certain law and order tensions. The government needs to provide justification because their claim is never backed up by actual evidence,” she said.

Choudhary said that despite the internet shutdown things are worse in the state. “I don’t know what could have been worse,” she said, adding that the internet in today’s India is both a luxury and also public utility.

“Democracies need to have a different standard. We cannot simultaneously sync the tune of democracy and say we are moving closer to the United States in contrast to China and then try to run practices of China at home,” she added.

For Kim as well, getting any form of information regarding her brother became a task and despite the trauma of losing him, she had to make numerous calls to gather information.

On the other hand, social media is being used in other states as a way to share misinformation and propaganda against the Tribal communities. In a post shared on Facebook, calls are being made to “harm the Kuki in Chandigarh”.

Meanwhile, an educationist from Manipur named Ujjwala Shanker, who is living in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow took to Facebook to share that she was attacked for her identity near her home.

“In the garb of planting trees, these people were restricting entry into my school gate. The road is so narrow that 2 cars cannot simultaneously pass together. I tried reasoning with them but in vain. One retired Colonel RK Singh cornered me and hit me.

When my husband tried to save me, one Mr Abhay pulled him away and beat him up. We were 2 people and they were a crowd. If these are civilised people who can do goondaism in broad daylight with a woman I shudder to think about the plight of all women,” she posted on Facebook.

But even as violence continues in the valley, protests in solidarity with the tribal communities have been ongoing.

Hundreds of people gathered in Mizoram on Tuesday to show their solidarity with the Kuki-Zo community.

Officials figure say more than 129 people have lost their lives in the violence with many cases of rape and sexual harassment against Tribal women being reported.