SC Asks State to Ensure Last Rites of Manipur Violence Victims
Almost seven months after the violent conflict between the Kuki-Zomi militants and Meiteis in Manipur have claimed 175 lives according to the latest official report submitted, the Supreme Court witnessed an acrimonious slanging match between the State government and lawyers representing civil society organisations on Tuesday, November 28 over the last rites of 169 identified bodies lying in mortuaries since May.
“We cannot keep the bodies in the mortuary indefinitely… The violence happened in May,” Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, heading a three-judge Bench, pointed out. They deserved a dignified farewell; the Supreme Court noted and directed the Manipur Government to allow the families of the 81 identified victims to do last rites at a government-identified site by December 4.
The Justice Gita Mittal Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court to bring a “healing touch” to the State, had said that the civil society groups are “unfortunately insisting on the burial of bodies at unsuitable sites, causing a great source of mounting tension. These sites are on the inter-district boundary between the hills districts and the valley”.
In Tuesday’s order, the Supreme Court said the State should ensure that no third party intervened in the performance of the last rites of the victims.
The Justice Mittal Committee had said that of the 169 bodies identified, 81 have been claimed by families, while 88 still remain unclaimed.
The panel’s October 21 report accused civil society organisations of trying to “prevent the next of kin of the dead to take their bodies for their last rites”.
Directing the Manipur government to ensure last rites of 81 identified and claimed victims at any one of the nine sites identified by the State by December 4, the Supreme Court said the State should also reach out to relatives of the 88 dead, who have been identified but not claimed as yet, by the same date. If no relatives claim the body, the State is free to carry out the last rites as per the law.
The SC permitted the State to carry out burial/cremation of unidentified bodies with due observance of religious rites. The court ordered District Collectors and police chiefs to take measures to ensure the peaceful conduct of the last rites.
The SC Bench ordered the State to take DNA samples from the bodies as criminal investigation about the circumstances of their deaths were still on.
Rs 18.85 Crore Looted From PNB Ukhrul
Amidst the violent situation in Manipur, armed miscreants reportedly looted a sum of Rs 18,00,85,000 from the Punjab National Bank located at peaceful Viewland in Ukhrul district around 5.47 pm on Thursday, November 30.
According to reports, the staffs of the bank had finished transaction and deposit activities for the day and were continuing their work inside the office by closing the shutter of the main gate before the incident took place.
The armed gang of around 10 persons suddenly entered from an entrance used only by the staff of the bank and overpowered the manager and the entire staff including a security personnel who was on duty near the Strong Room. The gang managed to loot a sum of Rs 18,00,85,000 from the bank.
Immediately on receiving information of the incident, SP Ukhrul Ningsen Vashum rushed to the site for a spot inquiry and launched frisking and checking activities across Ukhrul town.
As per the CCTV footage from cameras installed inside the bank, the armed gang consisted of around 10 persons. They carried different kinds of weapons including AK rifles. They wore olive green, Khaki uniforms and track suits, as per the footage.
The manager in-charge of the bank M Kumuni said that as many as eight personnel of the 6th MR have been posted for duty at the bank. However, not all of the security personnel were present when the robbery occurred, reports aaded.
Ukhrul Police Station has registered a case in connection with the incident. It is said that the Manager of the bank is on leave.
It may be mentioned that this is the third incident of bank loot after ethnic clashes broke out on May 3 in Manipur.
The Manipur State Co-operative Bank branch in Kangpokpi was looted as early as May first week. Computers and other electronic items worth nearly Rs 1 crore were found looted when bank officials opened the branch after it was closed down due to the violence.
Days after the violence started, cash and ornaments valued at over Rs 2.25 crore were found on July 10 missing from an Axis Bank branch in Churachandpur district HQs.
Koutruk Village Attacked Again
Kuki militants continued attack by firing guns and bombs at Koutruk Ching Leikai under Lamshang Police station in Imphal West on November 30, resulting in a retaliatory fire from village volunteers and security forces. No confirmed report of casualties till the time of writing this story.
Kuki militants carried out the attack from their bunkers above Koutruk Nongchup Chingyang around 3.35 pm when Koutruk village volunteers were on their way to Koutruk community hall for their duty shift change.They fired around six bombs and numerous rounds of bullets in which the village volunteers also retaliated to the attack, reports said.
Reports added that 2nd IRB, 3rd IRB and 7th IRB personnel who were on duty at the area also fired towards the Kuki militants after receiving information that some Kuki militants armed with automatic rifles came down and attacked Koutruk Ching Awang area.
Security forces fired around three mortar shells towards Koutruk Maning Ching after the kuki militants fired bullet rounds at the IRB bunker. One mortar shell exploded at the Kuki bunker. The Kuki militants retreated back to the hills after the security forces retaliated to the attack. Terrified villagers of Koutruk Ching Leikai fled to Koutruk Maning Leikai to save themselves from the attack. There were no casualties among the Koutruk village volunteers and security forces, reports added.
Zo United Rally for Separate Administration
Thousands of people marched in nine towns, cities and 17 different villages across the country on Wednesday, November 29, taking part in the nationwide rally in demand for a Separate Administration for the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi-Mizo communities in Manipur.
The rally was organised under the aegis of Zo United, parent body for all Kuki-Hmar-Zomi-Mizo tribes in Manipur. The participants, expressing their discontent with the Manipur state government, held placards which read, ‘Separate Administration Is The Only Solution’, ‘Meitei Government, Down, Down’, ‘Tribal Area, Tribal Government’ and ‘No Solution, No Rest’ etc. The rallies highlighted the alleged grim reality faced by the community.
A release issued by the Zo United alleged that “the majoritarian policies of the Biren Singh government led to tensions and a complete breakdown of trust between the Meiteis and the tribals. This eventually led to the outbreak of the violence.”
They claimed that the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi-Mizo tribes have been forcibly displaced, with key institutions like technical institutes, hospitals, offices, and the state’s only airport now inaccessible.
Accusing the government and police of siding openly with the majority community, Zo United alleged that commandos led the attacks on tribal villages. They also alleged that the situation worsened when essential items, including central government aid, were blocked by Meitei mobs, preventing their distribution to tribal areas.
A memorandum was also submitted to Union Home Minister Amit Shah through Churachandpur deputy commissioner. The memorandum outlined what they claimed was a desperate need for a separate administration. It emphasised historical contributions of the Manipur tribal community to India’s independence struggle.
The memorandum stated about a humanitarian crisis, armed threats, and violence, with government-issued weapons allegedly distributed and posing a threat to the tribal communities. It urged the Union Home Minister to consider the establishment of a Separate Administration.
‘No Rally or Agitation in Tangkhul Areas’
The Tangkhul Naga frontal organizations had issued a stern warning notifying that any organization or forum (s) will not be allowed to organise any form of rally or agitation within the jurisdiction of Tangkhul Naga areas related to the ongoing conflict without consulting them.
The notification of the Tangkhul frontal organisations is in response to the proposed Kuki-Zo tribal’s “Nationwide Rally” seeking support for their demand for “Separate Administration” slated for November 29, which according to information available, includes at least 21 locations all over India and includes as many as 12 States — Chennai, Delhi, Assam, Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
The notification issued on Monday, Nvember 27 by four Tangkhul civil bodies “reiterates its stand for peaceful co-existence with all the communities and remain committed to the principle of neutrality in the ongoing communal crisis.”
The four Tangkhul frontal organisations namely, the Tangkhul Naga Wungnao Long, Tangkhul Shanao Long, Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong and Tangkhul Mayar Ngala Long says “any unwarranted situation will not be tolerated by the Tangkhul Naga Frontal Organizations.”
Further, it also warned that “Non-compliance to this notification shall be treated as willful defiance which will necessitate stern action.”
Imphal Naga Forum Appeals For Peace
The Imphal Naga Forum (INF) has made a clarion call to all ethnic groups in Manipur to maintain peace and harmony amidst the raging violent conflict in the State.
A release issued by the Information and Publicity Cell of INF stated on Thursday, November 30 that in the just concluded “Imphal Naga People’s Consultative Meeting” held at Tarung community hall on November 27 made a passionate appeal that peace reigns supreme in every nook and corner of the State.
The event was attended by the top Naga leaders including the Special Advisor to UNC; Chairman, Union Tangkhul Baptist Churches, Imphal; President of AMCO; the Vice President of UNC and its two former Presidents and the Ex-Chairman; Committee for Alternative Arrangement, UNC.
The mega public event witnessed a huge turnout of Nagas in Imphal where they deliberated and introspected on the current upheaval in the state. The congregation of Nagas also expressed the immediate need to build an environment of peaceful coexistence and camaraderie, the release said.
The Nagas also lamented over the indifferent attitude of the Union Government in solving the seven-month-old communal war and the effort to settle the burning issue is nowhere to be seen. There is no immediate solution in sight and one has not seen the faint light at the far end of the tunnel, the Imphal Naga Forum said.
The Forum also stated that the two warring communities failed to heed the earlier appeals made by the various CSOs and the International bodies to shun violence and return to the path of peace and prosperity.
During the consultative meeting, the Nagas prayed for divine intervention so that the troubled state of Manipur returns to the path of peace and reconciliation.
Cache Of Arms, Ammunition, Explosives
In a joint search operation by the State and the Central Security Forces in the fringe and vulnerable areas of strife-torn Manipur, a huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosives was recovered on November 27.
Police said that a combined team of Imphal East district police, 22 Assam Rifles, and 18 Assam Rifles conducted a search operation at P Geljang and P Thenjol of Kangpokpi district and Tiger Camp of Imphal East district. P Geljang and P Thenjol are villages within Kangpokpi district but within the operational jurisdiction of Sagolmang police station in Imphal East district.
During the search operation, the combined team detected a cache of arms, ammunition and explosives in a gunny bag in a bush. The police suspected it was concealed by armed miscreants.
Upon checking, the gunny bag was found containing one US Carbine with an empty magazine, a SLR with one empty magazine, two 9mm pistols with empty magazine, one .22 pistol with one empty magazine, four hand grenades along with two bottles suspected to be local made IEDs full of suspected charge with attached codex wire, one piece of detonator and 16 pieces of broken PEK.
In another operation in the fringe areas of the Tamenglong-Jiribam inter-district border, the security forces dismantled three bunkers which were found erected in a village.
The operation was conducted by Tamenglong district police along with 5th Manipur Rifles, 39 Assam Rifles and 87th battalion CRPF, the police also said.
The State Police have been conducting joint operations with the Central Security Forces in the fringe and vulnerable areas of violently affected districts of the state to recover looted arms, ammunition and explosives in the hands of civilians.
A total of 5,668 arms along with ammunition were also looted during the initial stage of the violence. Of this, the police and security forces have so far recovered 1,329 arms and 15,050 rounds of ammunition. They also recovered 900 bombs. Till the last week of September, the police had recovered about a quarter of the arms and less than 5 percent of the ammunition.
Constitution of India in Manipuri
In a historic moment for the people of Manipur, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren released the Diglot Edition of the Constitution of India in Manipuri Language, written in Meitei Mayek (script), on the occasion of Constitution Day at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in Imphal Sunday morning.
India celebrates Constitution day every year on November 26 to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India on 26th November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly of India, which came into effect from 26th January 1950. Celebrating the day, chief minister Biren also led those present on the occasion in pledge taking by reading out the Preamble of the Constitution of India in Manipuri language.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Nongthomba Biren expressed that the release of the Diglot Edition of the Constitution of India in Manipuri Language (written in Meetei Mayek) is a historic moment for all the people of Manipur. He said that the specialty of the Diglot Edition released today is the inclusion of Constitutional Amendments till the 105th.
During the programme, the Chief Minister distributed certificates of appreciation to officers and transcribers/translators for their contribution in coming up with the translated edition. Works Minister Govindas Konthoujam, IPR minister Dr. Sapam Ranjan, Law and Legislative Affairs minister Thounaojam Basanta Kumar, Social Welfare minister Heikham Dingo, Chairman, Manipur Pollution Control Board Dr. Usham Deben, Moirang MLA Thongam Shanti, Wangkhei MLA Thangjam Arunkumar, Chief Secretary Dr. Vineet Joshi and other senior Government officials attended the programme among others.
Channel-Based Counselling in Manipuri launched at IGNOU Regional Centre-Imphal
Indira Gandhi National Open University, IGNOU, Regional Centre-Imphal has launched ‘Channel-based counselling in the Manipuri language.’ The launching event was held at Asha Hall, Asha-Jina Complex, North AOC in Imphal on Monday (November 27) afternoon. IGNOU Regional Centre in Imphal was established on 1st December 2000 with 3 study centres operating under Regional Centre Shillong. Subsequently, the three study centres were brought under the administrative control of the Imphal Regional Centre. The overall trend in enrollment at IGNOU Regional Centre, Imphal has been continuously rising.
Speaking on the occasion, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs and Education, Dr Rajkumar Ranjan as Chief Guest congratulated IGNOU for creating the technology-based learning system to provide a learning environment in the Manipuri language in line with National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which has emphasized teaching in the mother tongue. He expressed hope that the far-reaching impacts of this endeavour will endurefor generations and empower individuals who will steer India’s progress in the 21st century and beyond.
Prof Nageshwar Rao, Vice-Chancellor of IGNOU, Prof Uma Kanjilal, Pro vice-chancellor, Dr Srikant Mahopatra, Pro vice-chancellor, Dr UC Pandey, Director RSD, Dr Salam Dilan, RD, Manipur attended the event among other distinguished guests.
NEP 2020 amply focuses on the promotion of all Indian languages and mother tongues irrespective of their status. IGNOU can take a pivotal role and can contribute tremendously through its vast network to the promotion of the Manipuri language and the development of a positive attitude towards the language. The channel-based counselling now in Manipuri by IGNOU through the SWAYAM Prabha Channel is an act of foresight, a commitment to the future, and a belief in the transformative power of education especially for the Manipuri community not only settled in Manipur but also spread across the country as well as the Manipuri diaspora”, Dr. Ranjan said.
Crest of Indian Navy’s Warship IMPHAL Unveiled
The crest of Indian Navy’s Warship, Yard 12706 (IMPHAL) was unveiled by India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on November 28. Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren also attended the unveiling ceremony of the crest of Yard 12706 (Imphal). The crest of Yard 12706 (Imphal) is the third among the four Project 15B stealth guided missile destroyers.
The unveiling of Imphal’s crest, adorned with the Kangla Palace and ‘Kangla-Sha’ is a befitting tribute to the sacrifice made by the people of Manipur towards India’s independence, sovereignty and security.
The crest design depicts the Kangla Palace, which is an important historical and archaeological site of Manipur, and the traditional seat of the past kingdom, on the left and ‘Kangla-Sha’ on the right.
The Ship is designed by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau and built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), Mumbai. It is a hallmark of indigenous shipbuilding and is amongst the most technologically advanced warships in the world. The ship was delivered by the MDL to the Indian Navy on October 20, 2023, reports said.
A guided missile destroyer with a displacement of 7,400 tons and overall length of 164 meters, Imphal is a potent and versatile platform equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. Powered by Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) propulsion, she is capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots (56 km/hr).
Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar and other officials of Ministry of Defence and Government of Manipur were also present on the occasion.
The function was also attended by Commissioner Art and Culture M Joy Singh, Prof N Joykumar, Prof Ch Priyoranjan, Dr K Sobita besides others who were involved in the designing of the crest, reports added.
Manipur Judokas Claim 62 Medals In Khelo India Women’s League
Manipur judokas have bagged 62 medals, including 17 gold, in the 3rd Khelo India (East Zone) Women’s League Judo Tournament 2023 which concluded at Indoor Stadium, Khuman Lampak Sports Complex on November 30.
During the last day bout of the Senior Category, Manipur bagged 2 gold, 4 silver and 8 bronze medals. The total medals from Sub-Junior, Cadet, Junior and Senior for Manipur are 17 gold, 15 silver and 30 bronze medals.
Tripura judokas took 6 gold while Meghalaya and Bihar finished with 2 gold medals each among other medals in the meet, reports said.