A mass burial is being held in Churachandpur, one of the hardest-hit districts in the ethnic violence that has gripped Manipur since May 3, for 87 people who were killed in the clashes.
The ceremony is taking place amid tight security measures, with Section 144 still imposed in the district following clashes between members of two tribal communities on Sunday night.
The 87 dead, all belonging to the Kuki Zo community, are finally being buried after spending close to eight months in morgues. The delay in the burial had heightened tensions in the region, exacerbating the already fragile peace.
Churachandpur, a focal point of the ethnic unrest, has been grappling with the aftermath of clashes. The strife had prompted the Kuki community’s attempts to organise a mass burial months ago, at the border of Churachandpur and Bishnupur districts, predominantly inhabited by the Meitei community. Unfortunately, this endeavor only served to deepen the existing conflict.
After months of simmering tensions, back-channel talks involving civil society groups played a pivotal role in reducing hostilities. The Supreme Court intervened, adding its weight to the resolution efforts by directing the government to facilitate the dignified return of the dead to their respective homes.
Sporadic violence was reported from several places in Churachandpur district, especially in Thingkangphai village, on Monday.
“There are still chances of breach of peace due to the confrontation between the two groups of people… and the situation is still tense,” the district magistrate said in an order.
The prohibitory orders would remain in force till February 18, 2024.
The northeastern state has been embroiled in ethnic clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities, following the Meitei’s demand for Scheduled Tribes (ST) status. The violence has claimed the lives of hundreds while displacing thousands.