Aizawl: Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga’s timely intervention has been instrumental in resolving the stalemate surrounding the burial of 35 dead bodies Kuki-Zo tribals in Manipur, originally scheduled to take place on Thursday (Aug 3) at S. Boljang in the Torbung area of Lamka (Churachandpur) district.
According to reports, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), comprising all Kuki-Zo organisations, received an appeal from the Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday to postpone the burial service by five days. Following extensive deliberations, the ITLF initially rejected the appeal but eventually relented after Chief Minister Zoramthanga personally reached out to them via telephone. He urged them to reconsider the central government’s request, emphasising that it is the only entity capable of addressing their demands and concerns.
In a show of respect for Chief Minister Zoramthanga, who they regarded as “the only chief minister in the country who stood and raise voice in support of the tribal community in Manipur”, the ITLF eventually agreed to defer the mass burial.
During the discussions, the ITLF put forth a 5-point charter of demands, including the legalisation of S. Solbung (Dag no. 2022, 2025, 2161, and 2162 of Torbung Lourup of Lamka district) as the burial site. They also demanded no deployment of Manipur state police in the hill areas of Manipur, and the transfer of all Kuki-Zo deceased individuals currently in Imphal to Lamka (Churachandpur) district while the burial service is postponed.
Additionally, the ITLF called for expediting the demand for separate administration and ensuring the safety of all Kuki-Zo prisoners by relocating them from Imphal Jail to facilities outside the state.
Although the mass burial ceremony was deferred, a poignant gathering of thousands of people took place at the Peace Ground in Tuibuong to pay their respects to the ‘martyrs’ of the Manipur ethnic violence, which commenced on May 3, as mentioned by the ITLF representative in Aizawl.
On Wednesday, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (Cocomi) strongly opposed the burial of Kukis at Torbung, which Meiteis claim as their area, scheduled for August 3.
Cocomi, a valley-based civil society group, asserted that such an act could provoke further violence in the conflict-torn state. They firmly stated that the deceased Kukis cannot be buried at the Sericulture Firm in Torbung Bangla, located in Bishnupur district and beyond the Churachandpur district boundary. Instead, they emphasized that the burial should take place within Churachandpur district or their rites be performed there. The group demanded the state government to prohibit any such attempts.
Cocomi, along with the public, threatened to block the burial if it proceeds and warned the government of bearing responsibility for any untoward incident that may arise.
On the contrary, the ITLF claimed that the burial site falls under Lamka (Churachandpur) district, which is predominantly inhabited by the Kuki-Zos.