India Holds Mass Burial For Victims Of Ethnic Violence

In a large ceremony on Wednesday, the bodies of 87 individuals who died in the eight months of intense ethnic conflict in the Indian state of Manipur were interred, according to a community leader.

Since fighting broke out in May between the mostly Christian Kuki community and the primarily Hindu Meitei majority, at least 200 people have died in the northeastern state.

Competition for land and governmental jobs has been the main source of tension between the two populations, and rights campaigners have accused local authorities of aggravating ethnic tensions for political purposes.

Due to rival militias erecting barriers to prevent members of the opposing community out, the remote state has broken apart along ethnic lines. As a result, many families were unable to travel to retrieve their loved ones’ remains.

The deceased’ bones had been kept in morgues in Imphal, the state capital, which is thought to be mostly a Meitei area.

The top court of India gave the go-ahead last month for the authorities to bury or cremate the bodies, and to transport the remains of 64 victims from Imphal to their relatives.

“The burial is over of all the 87 bodies,” said Ginza Vualzong, a spokesman for the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) in Manipur, told AFP.

“It is a day of mixed emotions. It is a sad day, but in a way a sense of relief as we can finally put our martyrs to rest.”

While men brandishing weapons fired volleys into the air, long lines of coffins, many of which had Christian crosses placed on top, were dropped into individual holes cut into a hillside.

The Churachandpur region dominated by the Kuki community hosted the mass burial. It happened after 19 dead were buried in the Kangpokpi district last week.

Human Rights Watch has charged that “divisive policies that promote Hindu majoritarianism” are being utilized by state officials in Manipur, which is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, to facilitate the conflict.

In gunfights that occurred earlier this month in Manipur’s Tengnoupal district, near the Myanmar border, at least 13 individuals lost their lives.

On Tuesday, a long-running on-off internet ban was reimposed and large public gatherings were banned after fresh clashes.



Written by PH

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