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After 632 days in morgue, bodies of 8 Manipur anti-bills ‘martyrs’ buried

Nine persons were killed in September 2015 during violence that erupted after the Manipur assembly passed three Inner Line Permit Bills in August 2015. One body was buried earlier.

india Updated: May 24, 2017 23:43 IST
Rahul Karmakar, Guwahati
Manipur Violence,2015 Manipur Violence,Churachandpur
People offer floral tributes to the eight people killed in the violence in 2015.(HT Photo)

After 632 days of lying in a district hospital morgue, the bodies of eight persons killed in the aftermath of an agitation against three allegedly anti-tribal bills were buried in Manipur’s Churachandpur town on Wednesday.

Churachandpur is about 65 km from state capital Imphal.

The decision to perform the last rites for the eight boys and men was taken on May 11 after the agreement between the newly-installed coalition government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Joint Action Committee (JAC), the frontal organisations of several tribes belonging to the Kuki-Zomi communities.

“The bodies were buried after a solemn ceremony. The day ended with a traditional fest hosted by the district administration to the members of the bereaved families and the civil society at the deputy commissioner’s bungalow,” JAC’s chief convenor H Hmangchinkhup said.

Floral tributes offered to the eight people killed in the violence in 2015. ( HT Photo )

Churachandpur and other areas dominated by the Kuki-Zomi tribes erupted in anger after the former Congress government tabled three controversial bills in the assembly in August 2015. The bills, aimed at checking infiltration and regulate the entry of outsiders, were construed as anti-tribal, since India’s partition in 1947 left many Kuki-Zomi as well as Naga people in Myanmar.

The agitators attacked houses of MLAs from Churachandpur district. Nine people were killed in the resultant arson and police firing over 48 hours from August 31, 2015.

The JAC refused to bury the bodies until the government withdrew the contentious bills -- Protection of Manipur People bill, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (7th Amendment) bill and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (2nd Amendment) Bill.

The government at that time accused the JAC of unnecessarily keeping their ‘dead body politics’ alive, as President Pranab Mukherjee did not clear them in June 2015.

Floral tributes offered to the eight people killed in the violence in 2015. ( HT Photo )

The movement lost much of its steam after the Congress government in December 2016 announced the creation of seven new districts. The Kuki-Zomi tribes were seen as major beneficiaries of this announcement as most of the new districts had been carved out of areas that the other major tribal group -- the Nagas -- claim as their ancestral land.

The cracks in the movement became more apparent when the kin of 11-year-old Khaizamang Touthang, the youngest of the nine ‘martyrs’, allegedly stole his body and buried him a month before the assembly election in March.

First Published: May 24, 2017 23:34 IST