Manipur violence: Bodies of 87 Kuki-Zo victims laid to rest amid tight security

The bodies of 87 Kuki-Zo victims who were killed in the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur laid to rest. [Photo: / Zoo_bear]

On Wednesday, a somber mass burial ceremony took place in Churachandpur district, Manipur, where the bodies of 87 Kuki-Zo victims, casualties of the ongoing ethnic violence, were laid to rest.

The poignant event unfolded at the Kuki-Zo martyrs cemetery in Sekhen, featuring tributes, Christian rituals, and a solemn gun salute performed by village defense volunteers.

Preceding the ceremony, a meeting was convened in Tuibuong.

The location became a gathering point for thousands, witnessing emotional farewells from the family members of the victims.

The coffins, draped in traditional shawls and wreaths, were reverently placed in the graves, symbolizing a final resting place for those lost in the tragic conflict.

Ngaineikim, the president of the Kuki Women Organisation for Human Rights, expressed a profound sense of relief as the bodies of numerous brothers and sisters found their resting place according to customs and rituals.

She acknowledged the prolonged wait endured by grieving families and affirmed that the struggle for justice for the deceased and the demand for a separate administration for the Kuki-Zo people would persist.

This poignant ceremony occurred under stringent security measures, following a curfew imposed across the entire district on Monday night.

The curfew, effective for two months until February 18, was a response to clashes between two groups of Kuki and Zomi residents that resulted in nearly 30 injuries.

Remarkably, this marked the second mass burial ceremony this month for Kuki-Zo victims.

Earlier in the month, bodies of 64 victims from the ethnic conflict between Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities were relocated from morgues, following directives from the Supreme Court that concluded a six-month-long wait.

The bodies of 60 Kuki-Zo victims were transferred from morgues in the Meitei-dominated Imphal to Kangpokpi and Churachandpur districts. Additionally, the remains of four Meitei victims were airlifted from a morgue in Kuki-majority Churachandpur to Imphal.

The conflict, erupting on May 3, between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo people has, to date, resulted in at least 194 fatalities and displaced over 67,000 individuals.

Muan Tombing, the general secretary of the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), shared a sense of relief after the emotionally charged day, emphasising that the mass burial provided peace and closure for the affected families.

Until the bodies were laid to rest, bereaved families faced numerous restrictions, and this symbolic act offered a form of solace and finality.

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