“Everything has been destroyed. There’s nothing left.”

Sitting in a corner of a makeshift relief camp in Imphal’s Pangei area, Basanta Singh tries hard to hold back tears as he talks.

Singh, along with his wife and two children, had to run for their lives from the Saikul area in India’s northeastern state of Manipur when ethnic clashes erupted here last week.

Mr Singh belongs to the Meitei community and had been living in the hilly Saikul area – largely inhabited by the indigenous Kuki community – for over two decades. He ran a grocery store there.

When clashes began, he says he was advised by his Kuki friends to move out to a safer place.