Mass burial of 87 bodies of tribals held in Manipur’s Churachandpur
IMPHAL — The last rites of 87 more Kuki-Zo tribals, killed in Manipur’s ethnic violence nearly eight months ago, were performed following traditional rituals on Wednesday with thousands of people including women and their kin, attending the mass burial ceremony in Churachandpur district.
On December 15, the last rites of 19 tribals of the community, also killed in the ethnic hostility in May, were carried out in a similar mass burial ceremony in Kangpokpi district.
Police officials and the tribal organisation sources said that the bodies of 87 slain Kuki-Zo tribals, including women and children were kept in various morgues in different districts close to eight months now. The bodies include one of a month-old baby.
The tribal volunteers gave gun salutes in respect towards the slain people, whom they termed as “martyrs”.
Before the burial, a condolence service and mass prayers were organised at the ground in Tuibuong in tribal dominated Churachandpur.
Amid the heavy security and prohibitory orders in Churachandpur district, the mass burial took place following the customary and religious rituals and numerous performances.
Earlier the bodies of people belonging to the Kuki-Zo community were flown from Imphal and other places to Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts by Indian Air Force helicopters.
Similarly, the bodies of four victims belonging to the Meitei community and lying at Churachandpur district hospital morgue since the ethnic conflict erupted on May 3 were also airlifted to Imphal valley for their last rites.
The airlifting exercises of the bodies and related other actions were taken by the state government, district administrations and other authorities only after the Supreme Court issued a directive last month to the state government for dignified disposal of the bodies.
The Supreme Court had formed a committee in August of three former high court judges — Gita Mittal, Shalini Joshi, and Asha Menon — to look into the investigation, relief, remedial measures, compensation and rehabilitation in violence-devastated Manipur.
Considering the committee’s report, the apex court issued directives for the burial or cremation of those killed in the ethnic violence in Manipur.
Ethnic violence broke out in Manipur nearly eight months ago after a “Tribal Solidarity March” was organised in the hill districts of the state to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
The ethnic riot between non-tribal Meitei and tribal Kuki communities has so far claimed 182 lives, injured several hundred and displaced more than 70,000 people of both communities.