IAF airlifts bodies of 64 of 88 Manipur ethnic strife victims | India News


GUWAHATI: The IAF airlifted on Thursday 64 of the 88 identified but unclaimed bodies of victims of the ethnic violence in Manipur to their native places, giving a semblance of closure to families waiting up to seven months for the administration to arrange their transportation from mortuaries in Imphal and Churachandpur.
These bodies remained in the morgues of state-run hospitals even after being identified as the victims’ families apparently feared travelling from the hills to the valley and vice-versa.
The airlifting exercise was made possible by the Supreme Court’s November 29 directive to the BJP-led state government to ensure that identified bodies lying unclaimed in morgues were handed to the victims’ kin for the last rites by December 11.
The process, delayed by three days, required multiple helicopter sorties to various destinations, mostly in the tribal-dominant hill districts from where 60 of the victims hailed. Four of the bodies were sent to their villages in the valley.

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Between the start of the ethnic flare-up on May 3 and October 7, a total of 175 deaths were reported, based on the count of bodies piling up in the morgues. Before Thursday, 81 of these 175 bodies had been claimed. Of the rest, six are still to be identified.
Of the 60 identified bodies kept in the morgues of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences and Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal, 41 were handed over to their families in Churachandpur and 19 in Kangpokpi. Four bodies from the Churachandpur District Hospital mortuary were claimed by their kin in the valley.
In Kangpokpi, the Committee on Tribal Unity said the burial of “fallen Kuki-Zo brethren” would take place on Friday at the “martyrs’ cemetery” in Phaijang.
The organisation has declared a 12-hour shutdown from 5am on Friday, saying the process of handing over the bodies marks the “much-awaited homecoming of our fallen brothers and sisters after a tumultuous eight months of despair, heartbreak and hopelessness”. The mass funeral of the 41 bodies brought to Churachandpur is likely to be arranged next week along with that of 24 other victims lying at the district hospital morgue. Last month, the apex court said it wouldn’t be appropriate to retain bodies that had not been identified and allowed the state to carry out burial or cremation “with due observance of religious rites”.


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