In a somber turn of events, the sensitive border state of Manipur, plagued by long-standing violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities, witnessed another fatality on Thursday, December 14. The 26-year-old Kuki volunteer, Khaitinmang Baite, lost his life in the Haolenphai Tengnoupal district of the state, according to The Wire.
This unfortunate incident unfolded on the same day when the bodies of both Meitei and Kuki community members, casualties of the months-long conflict, were finally dispatched from the morgues of various districts to their respective homes for a dignified farewell.
As many as 60 dead bodies of Kuki-Zo tribals killed in Manipur violence were flown back to their respective districts in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi from Imphal amid tight security on Thursday, as reported by Ukhrul Times. The dead bodies of the Kuki-Zo tribals killed in the early week of May 2023 were in limbo at JNIMS and RIMS morgue in Imphal ever since the ethnic conflict between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities broke out on May 3, 2023. The arrangement was made after the proper identification of the Kuki-Zo bodies.
For over eight months, Manipur has grappled with the aftermath of ethnic clashes that shook the region. Today, sources revealed to NDTV that the unclaimed bodies of the violence victims, numbering 64, were relocated from Imphal’s morgues to different districts in compliance with the Supreme Court’s directives. This measure aimed to facilitate proper burials for the deceased.
In a coordinated effort between the Central and state governments, the victims’ bodies were transported early Thursday under the vigilant security cover of central forces. Air Force choppers were deployed to airlift the bodies from Imphal to the Kangpokpi district, with at least 19 bodies reaching the destination so far. A similar operation is underway, targeting the relocation of 41 bodies to the worst-affected Churachandpur district. Bodies housed outside Imphal will undergo a similar process.
The Supreme Court’s intervention came last month, directing the Manipur government to arrange for the dignified burial of unidentified victims. The Chief Justice DY Chandrachud-led bench ordered the government to ensure a “decent and dignified burial” based on a committee report addressing the humanitarian aspects of the Manipur violence, including compensation and victim rehabilitation.
According to the committee’s report, 175 bodies in the state remain unburied, with 169 identified. Of these, 81 were claimed by relatives, 88 were unclaimed, and the remaining six were unidentified. The report highlighted that while the Manipur government identified nine sites for cremation or burial, civil society organizations allegedly impeded families from accepting the bodies.
Meanwhile, to honor and respect those killed in the conflict from the Kuki-Zo community, the Joint Philanthropic Organization has urged all shops and vendors to be shut down, including vehicles and business establishments from 2 pm on Thursday.