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Bandh held in protest against proposed burial of nine Churachandpur ‘martyrs’

IMPHAL: A 24-hour Churachandpur town bandh was imposed by several social organisations on Friday to protest against the proposed burial service tomorrow.

A decision to lay the mortal remains of the nine protesters to rest on February 13 was taken in a meeting convened by a conglomerate of Kuki groups—United People’s Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation (KNO) at Churachandpur town on February 10. The Churachandpur JAC also attended the meeting.

Churachandpur branch of Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO) president Haopu Haokip, who is also Treasurer of the JAC, told The Morung Express that a few individuals have opposed the planned burial service of the nine martyrs and that they had released a press statement saying the JAC and JPO have not yet taken any decision to perform the burial service of the martyrs.

“The reports published in the local newspapers are not genuine. We (JAC) have not released such a statement,” Haokip said.

However, cracks within the JAC have seemingly surfaced with Chief Convenor of the JAC, H. Mangchinkhup, telling The Citizen, an online news daily, that the JAC has taken a decision to defer the burial. There will be no funeral until the government withdraws the controversial bills, he was reported as saying.

Haokip, though, is insistent that he speaks for the majority and claims that 95 percent of the members present during a meeting of JAC and JPO agreed to conduct the burial service on February 13.

He stated that the JAC did not call any meeting to defer the date of the funeral service and alleged that a handful of people within the JAC are now unwilling to go with the plan on the funeral service because they have some “unknown interest” against the “collective decision”.  “Majority of the JAC members are still agreeing to bury the body tomorrow,” Haokip added.

The nine protesters were killed in violent protests which erupted in the district shortly after the passing of the three ILP Bills in the state assembly on August 31. The bodies of the nine martyrs have been lying in the mortuary of Churachandpur District Hospital for the last 162 days as the JAC refused to claim them and demanding that the Manipur government withdraw the controversial Bills.

But the Manipur government is unlikely to fulfill the demand of the JAC and the tribal people. UPF and KNO on the other hand reportedly convinced the JAC that the state government has agreed to compensate all victims, apart from constructing a martyrs’ park in their memory.

Stating that the funeral would go ahead provided there is no disturbance, Haokip expressed hope that the bodies of the martyrs will finally be buried. UPF and KNO recommended the proposal for laying the martyrs to rest on February 13 and entrusted the JAC, JPO and Innpis with the task.

Friday’s 24-hour strike hit a few areas of the town like New Lamka and New Bazar. No untoward incidents were reported.

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