Despite the violence that has been going on for eight months since May 3, the sportpersons of Manipur always try at their level best to bring laurels for India and fame to Manipur.
Manipur’s Sushila Chanu (Hockey) and Asian Games silver medalist Roshibina (Wushu) from have been nominated for the 2023 Arjuna Award along with 15 other athletes for the prestigious award from the rest of the country.
This year, the prestigious Arjuna Award nominations have once again put the spotlight on this Northeastern State of Manipur, with two of its athletes being recognized for their outstanding contributions to their respective sports.
It may be mentioned that past recipients of the award from Manipur include N. Kunjarani for weightlifting in 1990, Ngangom Dingku for boxing in 1998, and M.C. Mary Kom, also for boxing, in 2003. These athletes have not only brought glory to Manipur but have also served as inspirations for future generations.
Manipur’s contribution to Indian sports is significant, with the state having produced 19 Olympians who have competed across five different sports. This impressive tally underscores the region’s dedication to nurturing sporting talent.
The Arjuna Award, established in 1961, is India’s second-highest sporting honour and is bestowed upon athletes for consistent performances at the international level over a period of four years, along with demonstrating qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, and a sense of discipline.
23 Dead Bodies Including a Meitei Buried at Phaijang
Twenty-three dead bodies consisting of 19 flown from mortuaries in Imphal and four other untraceable/missing dead bodies were laid at “Martyrs Cemetery” at Phaijang village in Kangpokpi district on Friday, December 15, 2023.
During the burial ceremony of the 23 dead bodies, Kangpokpi district observed a 12-hour total shutdown on Friday, hoisted black flags and mourning the death of 23 Kuki-Zomis during the ongoing violent conflict in Manipur since May 3.
Significantly, the dead body of a Meitei woman, Lydia Lourembam, wife of Lourembam Inaoton, who was burnt alive along with seven year old boy, Tonsing Hangshing and Meena Hangshing in the infamous ambulance incident at Iroishemba on June 4 was also among the dead bodies buried on December 15.
Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM), Sadar Hills Chiefs’ Association (SHCA) and various other civil society organizations, Kuki-Zomi prominent leaders across the district and state also attended the mass burial ceremony, reports added.
Last Rites of Two Missing Meiteis Performed
The last rites of two missing individuals namely Atom Samarendra and Yumkhaibam Kirankumar from Khumbong Mayai Leikai, Imphal West were performed without the dead bodies.
After the violent conflict erupted on May 3 in Churachandpur district, the two individuals went missing on May 6, 2023. Since then the police have not been able to recover their bodies and have remained untraceable.
Following traditional Meitei beliefs, the burial was performed with Pangong tree, commonly known as Flame of the Forest or bastard teak and its botanical name is Butea monosperma, substituting the deceased’s bodies.
Memorial stones commemorating the contributions of the two individuals were also unveiled during the ceremony.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the ceremony, President of Imphal West Students Club Khumbong Oinam Samarendra lamented the state authorities’ inability to ascertain the exact whereabouts of the two individuals till now, reports added.
“Both were exceptional individuals who dedicated their lives to ushering peace and unity in Manipur. But unfortunately the families still yearn for their loved ones bodies which are still at large,” he said.
Dead Bodies at Mortuaries Disposed
In what can be described as a swift midnight operation, the bodies of those killed in the violent conflict between the Kuki-Zomi militants and Meiteis since May 3 lying in the mortuaries of Imphal and Churachandpur were secured by security forces, and eventually flown home to their respective districts, viz. Imphal, Churachandpur and Kangpokpi on December 14 amid tight security.
The dead bodies of Meitei and Kuki-Zomi communities who were killed in the early week of May 2023 were lying in limbo at Churachandpur Medical College, JNIMS and RIMS morgue, ever since the violence broke out on May 3, 2023. The arrangement was made after proper identification, reports said.
According to government officials, a total of 19 bodies were airlifted in two round trips at Motbung in Kangpokpi district and were later handed over to members of the Committee on Tribal Unity representing the deceased families.
A mass burial for those 19 bodies of Kangpokpi was scheduled to be held at Phaijang village, about 1 km from Motbung, and 20 km from Kangpokpi district headquarters, on December 15
A total of 41 bodies were airlifted and reached 36 sector Assam Rifles helipad in Churachandpur district in four trips. As for Churachandpur, mass burial for the 61 will be held near Tribal Martyr’s Park, Churachandpur district.
Meanwhile, the four dead bodies belonging to the Meitei community were airlifted from Churachandpur district. Dead bodies of Abhujam Ibemhal, Ksh Sunilkumar and Soibam Othello were claimed by respective families. However, the family of Ibochou declined to receive his dead body as they had already performed his last rites following tradtional practice of substituting the untraceable dead body with Pangong tree (commonly known as Flame of the Forest or bastard teak and its botanical name is Butea monosperma).
It may be mentioned that the dead bodies from the violence, which had been lying in the mortuaries for several months, were moved as per directions of the Supreme Court to Manipur Government on November 28 so that the victims could receive a proper last rites according to their customary practices.
Manipur Observes Nupi Lan Day
Manipur observed Nupi Lan Numit by paying floral tributes to the departed women leaders at the Nupi Lan Statue, Nupi Lan Memorial Complex and observing a function at GP Women’s College (Central Hall) on December 12, 2023.
Significance of this year’s observation is the recognition extended to the selfless contributions of women in the State is the two initiatives taken up by the State government in their honour. The initiatives are the renaming of the stretch of road from Governor’s Traffic Point to Pureiromba Khongnangkhong as ‘Nupi Lan Road’ and the announcement of the ‘Chief Minister’s Ima Nongthangleima Yaipha Tengbang Scheme’ for women sections.
Elaborating on the newly introduced scheme, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren informed that women who are above 40 years of age, with no source of income and not covered under any welfare scheme taken up by the government, would be provided financial assistance of Rs 6,000 per annum (Rs 500 per month).
Major Sabotage Averted in NH 102
In an alarming situation, a Road Opening Party (ROP) of the 3rd Assam Rifles seized as many as 45 IEDs planted by Kuki militants in between Bongyang village and Senam Village along National Highway 102 under Tengnoupal Police station on Tuesday (December 12) morning.
The ROP team initially came across 21 IEDs from a gunny sack. The remaining IEDs were recovered by a bomb disposal squad of the state police from two more gunny sacks. Wires measuring 100 ft were also recovered along NH-102. A Cortex wire of 800 meters and a wire coin were also uncovered and seized.
It is suspected that the IEDs were planted to carry out a serial bomb attack on the state forces. As per reports, the bombs were planted 50 feet apart from each gunny sack. The bomb disposal squad removed the IEDs and destroyed them at the AR camp in Tengnoupal district at around 5.10 pm, reports added.
Lone Survivor of Leithao Village Massacre Returns
The lone survivor of the massacre at Leithao village under Machi Police Station in Tengnoupal district, Manipur where 13 Meitei youths were ruthlessly killed by Kuki militants, has safely returned home and united with his family members on December 11.
Yengkhom Arnold Singh, 18, son of Yengkhom Binodchand of Kakching Mayai Leikai, Manipur reportedly managed to escape the killings at Leithao village on December 4. Arnold has completed his 12th Class from South Eastern Manipur College, Komlathabi and is a gold medallist in Wushu at Punjab and Haryana state tournaments, reports said.
However, the details of his survival story are yet to be revealed.
It may be recalled that the mortal remains of 13 youths were found with multiple bullet wounds at Leithao village.
Central and State Govt Working on Solutions: Guv
Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey on December 11 assured that efforts are being made by both the Central and State governments so that normalcy and peace may be restored by hammering out a definite solution to the prevailing unrest in Manipur.
She was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the launching programme of ‘Viksit Bharat@2047-Voice of Youth’ at the Durbar Hall of Raj Bhavan, Imphal. She said both the Centre and state government are engaging in a process to bring an absolute peace in Manipur. The persistent efforts made by the concerned stakeholders have yielded positive results to some extent, barring some isolated incidents, she mentioned.
“Efforts to bring peace in Manipur are being made by the Centre and State government. The Centre is holding persistent deliberations with the people, civil societies, organisations, political parties as well as other stakeholders for ending the current situation,” she said.
SP Anand Mishra to Head SIT Probe
IPS officer and Superintendent of Police (SP) Anand Mishra, previously stationed in Lakhimpur, Assam, has been transferred to take charge of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating violence-related cases in Manipur. The directive came in response to an order from the Supreme Court.
According to reports, IPS officer Mishra, who assumed the role of SP in Lakhimpur after the unfortunate incident involving the death of SI Junmoni Rabha, has now been appointed as the in-charge of the SIT tasked with probing specific cases of violence in Manipur. Accompanying Mishra in this responsibility is another Assam Police Service (APS) officer Randip Kumar Barua.
Both officers are expected to assume their roles immediately. The governor’s notification outlines that SP Mishra (RR-2011), and SP (Border-II) APS Baruah (DR-1993) are now at the disposal of the Manipur government to lead the SITs formed for investigating incidents in Manipur.
This move is in compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court of India, as per its judgment dated August 7, 2023, in Special Leave Petition (SLP) Civil Diary No. 19206 of 2023.
The Supreme Court had earlier directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to form SITs under DIG-rank officers to investigate six cases of violence in Manipur referred to it by the state government.
Former MLAs Call for Peace
Senior politician and former minister and MLA, Okram Joy of Langthabal Acembly Constituency (AC) led a team of four former MLAs namely, RK Anand of Naoriya Pakhanglakpa AC, Elangbam Chand of Yaiskul AC and Puthem Sharatchandra of Moirang AC called on Governor of Manipur, Anusuiya Uikey at Raj Bhavan on December 13 and requested to initiate a peace process to bring peace and normalcy in the state.
The team submitted a memorandum to the Governor urging to stop all forms of violence.
COCOMI Lifts Social Boycott of Manipur Government
The Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) on December 13 announced that the Committee would discontinue the social boycott imposed on the Manipur government starting December 14.
COCOMI maintained that the Committee had unanimously concluded on the resolution after assessing the developments of the ongoing conflict. Speaking to the media at COCOMI office, COCOMI Convenor Jeetendra Ningomba stated that the move to lift the boycott came after thorough deliberation of resolutions taken in several conventions.
“The resolution to lift the boycott was taken in several meetings held in various locations. Renowned intellect and social thinkers of the state who took part in these meetings all voiced their affirmation to lift COCOMI’s boycott of the State government,” he said.
Communities Appeal for Peace
Jamiat Ulema Manipur and Naga Christian Forum Manipur, expressing grief over the unfortunate turmoil and prevailing violent conflict in the State, have appealed for swift restoration of peace and normalcy in the state.
Representing the Naga and Meitei-Pangal communities, the two bodies, in a release, lamented over the loss of many lives, wanton destruction of properties, displacement and disruption of people’s movement and various occupations, exorbitant price rise etc., it stated.
The statement highlighted the major burden which is affecting mainly the poor and the innocent citizens of the whole State including non-conflicting communities. It expressed heartfelt condolence for the lives lost and also shared the suffering and sorrow of all those affected by the conflict.