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Manipur’s burial imbroglio

Thousands of students marched on the streets of Lamka (Churachandpur) on Saturday during a “Rally against educational negligence” to protest against the discrimination of Kuki-Zo students by Meitei-controlled Manipur government

Aizawl: Meitei civil society organisations (CSOs) have allegedly been impeding the proposed exchange of dead bodies between Meitei and ethnic Mizo communities who were killed in the ongoing ethnic strife in Manipur.

Albert Renthlei, Convener of Manipur’s Zo United, who is in Aizawl along with other Zo United leaders to hold discussions with Mizoram’s NGO Coordination Committee, said that the Meitei CSOs demanded the return of two Meitei youths who were missing.

“We do not have any knowledge about the two missing Meitei youths except through social media and we do not know if the claims of the Meitei CSOs are authentic or not,” he said.

The Zo United leader said that the issue of separate administration for ethnic Mizos in Manipur has been raised by the tribal militant groups who are under Suspension of Operations (SoO) with the central government a number of times. “They (SoO groups) submitted a memorandum to the centre with their demands on August 31. But no response has been received till date,” he said.

United Peoples’ Front (UPF) and the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) — which together represented 24 armed groups demanding local self-government for the Kuki-Zo inhabited areas of Manipur hills.

Renthlei said that 151 ethnic Mizos have died since ethnic violence erupted on May 3 while 50,000 people have been displaced and lodged in 200 relief camps while 42 people have died till date.

He said that 8,166 houses of ethnic Mizos in 203 villages have been burned to the ground during the turmoil. At least 266 Christian churches as well as 95 offices and quarters of churches have been burned down or vandalised by Meitei mob, he said.

Due to severe difficulties in communication, including telecommunications, the ‘Zo United’ though established to be an umbrella organisation, has to coordinate with all the tribal groups in collection of data and planning future courses of actions, Renthlei said.

Whichever political party comes to power in Mizoram, he expressed the hope that the state will remain ‘Jerusalem’ for all the ethnic Mizo groups living outside the state.

The issue of the burial of the deads had been discussed during a meeting between MHA officials and Zo United leaders at Lamka on Thursday (November 8).

The meeting was attended by Dr. Mandeep Singh Tuli, Jt Dir IB (NE) and AK Mishra, Interlocutor, from New Delhi. Also present in the meeting are Gnanasambandan, Jt Dir IB Imphal, Lamka DC Dharun Kumar and Assistant Director IB Lamka, Soiminthang Thangsing

The meeting objective was to review the last meeting with UHM on August 8 in New Delhi. 

It was highlighted in the meeting that a discussion between the government and the Joint Philanthropic Organisation (JPO), entrusted for the burial, came to a deadlock as the continued to insist to change the burial site.  

On the ITLF’s demand for removal of all state forces from the hill areas, the central officials said the Center cannot fully remove the state forces but they will not let the State forces act independently in the hill areas and that they should act in conjunction with the central forces. 

In regards to political demand, AK Mishra, the interlocutor said the SoO group have submitted their demands and is pending approval from the government. He further stressed the need to create a conducive environment for the solution to progress. He requested ITLF not to resort to violent means. ITLF leaders said they wanted to maintain peace but when they are provoked, they have no choice but to defend themselve. 

ITLF also spoke about the selective justice provided by NIA and CBI considering the recent arrests made by them. ITLF cited several cases that were not taken up by SBI which were more grusome like the beheading of David Thieks, the burning of tonsing and her mother inside an ambulance, the naked parade incident, the car wash incident, the attacked on MLA vungzagin and his drivers etc. Jt Dir Dr. Mandeep Singh said justice will come to everyone and he will take it up with CBI and NIA on this. 

ITLF thanked the government for the release and transfer of jail inmates whose case are minor and further requests to complete the process for the remaining jail inmates. 

Status of the Relief support was highlighted by the Lamka DC and he also talk about up coming plans. 

ITLF also spoke about their concerns of the thousands of arms that were looted and how these weapons which are in the hands of the civilians are not comforting. The leader of MHA said every efforts are being taken to collect these arms. And simillar exercise should be done in Lamka also.

ITLF also talk about the helicopter service. ITLF requested more frequent services between Lamka and Aizawl which is currently once a week to at least twice a week. They also requested for a circular helicopter service between Lamka, kangpokpi and moreh. This was agreed by UHM when they meet them last.

 

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