The silent cries: Manipur’s martyrs long for burial 247 days on


In our quest for materialistic desires, we often surpass the limits that binds us as humans. A similar case scenario has been witnessed in Manipur where nine bodies have been rotting away in a morgue at Churchandpur, about 60 kms south of Imphal, the capital of Manipur. 247 days have passed since the killing of nine protesters in August 31 and September 1, 2015, and yet the protesters have refused to bury them until their demands are catered to by the Government citing that they died for a cause.

The dissidents were part of the crowd who protested against three Bills passed by Manipur Government namely- the Protection of Manipur People bill, Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (7th Amendment) Bill and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (2nd Amendment) Bill. They are now calling for a rollover of the three Bills using these bodies as a bait to fulfill their demands. They believe that these Bills were passed without their consent.

Almost eight months after the event, Churachandpur still mourns its martyrs' death. Everyday, people converge outside the mortuary, where six symbolic coffins are placed under a tent. They light candles, sing hymns, shout slogans and pray to God for the Central Government to intervene.

Things actually took a wrong turn following the killing of an 11-year-old Kuki boy who was the youngest among the nine killed, 6 of whom were allegedly shot by the police.

Nemneilhing Touthang, mother of Khaijamang, the 11-year-old Kuki boy who was killed in the police firing  among others are of the view that their sons did not die of poverty or illness but due to agitation. Moreover, the fact that the government refuses to lodge even an FIR leave the mothers feeling betrayed. A widow, Touthang sells vegetables and weaves clothes for a living and refuses to stop protesting.

Nothing can compare to the emotions of a mother who just lost her 11-year-old son and whose body lay still in the morgue, decaying and dead, evidently without any fault of his, probably unaware of why his life was taken away at that fateful hour.

Relatives and friends of the dead dissidents, bounded by innumerable emotions are in a vulnerable state of mind whereby swaying their emotions and using them as a bait to meet the ends of some manipulative people with selfish interests have given this issue an inhuman turn.

In this ongoing tussle between the government and the people, how correct is it then, for people to deny the right to a decent post-death ceremony? The dead have passed the phase of reality but why at all should they be denied their right to a decent burial? Is it right for people in their quest for physical existence, to deny the basic rights for the sake of humanity?

A tangled situation has been created in Manipur whereby every stakeholder is busy in their own space, justifying why any concrete steps have not yet been taken. The co-ordination seems to be lacking and the dissidents still hold on to their stand that no bodies will be buried without any settlement. While every coin has two sides, the sides seem to have eroded the truth which lies somewhere in between the practices of humanity.

By Shweta Raj Kanwar