Manipur HC orders status quo on proposed burial site for 35 Kuki-Zomi people killed in ethnic strife

In this picture taken on July 24, 2023, an elderly woman looks at empty coffins kept at a makeshift memorial made for the victims who lost their lives during the ethnic violence in Churachandpur district in the northeastern state of Manipur. Photo: Arun Sankar/AFP

Manipur: The Manipur High Court has issued an order to maintain the status quo at the proposed burial site in Haolai Khopi village, Churachandpur district. The Kuki-Zo community had planned a burial service for 35 people who were killed in ethnic strife.

The order was passed by Acting Chief Justice M V Muralidharan after a hearing at 6 am.

Meanwhile, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum (ITLF), representing the Kuki-Zo community, has conditionally agreed to postpone the burial for five days. This decision came following requests from Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga.

The ITLF held a meeting late into the night until 4 am to discuss the new development. They stated that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) requested a delay in the burial for five more days.

In exchange for complying with the request, the ITLF was promised that they would be allowed to bury in the same location, and the government would legalise the land for burial. Similar requests were also made by the Mizoram Chief Minister.

After much deliberation with various stakeholders, the ITLF concluded that they would consider the request of the MHA on the condition that a written assurance is provided regarding five demands.

In response to the ITLF's call for the burial, additional central security forces were deployed to the Bishnupur-Churachandpur district boundary.

The ethnic clashes in Manipur broke out on May 3, following a 'Tribal Solidarity March' organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. The clashes resulted in over 160 deaths and several hundred injuries.

The Meiteis, who account for approximately 53 per cent of Manipur's population, reside mostly in the Imphal Valley, while the Nagas and Kukis, who constitute just over 40 per cent, reside in the hill districts.

(With PTI inputs)

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