This Article is From May 10, 2017

After 600 Days In Morgue In Manipur, 8 Bodies To Be Buried

The bodies were lying in a morgue since 2015, when six people were killed after police opened fire at a rally against land bills introduced by the Congress government.

A mob targetted a police station in Manipur's Churachandpur in September, 2015. (File)

Imphal: In the north eastern hill state of Manipur, families of eight young men shot during a land protest ago have agreed to bury them - 600 days after they were killed. The bodies were lying in a morgue since 2015, when six people were killed after police opened fire at a rally in the mainly tribal Churachandpur district against three land bills that had been introduced by the then Congress government. A subsequent flare-up in violence left another three locals dead.

BJP leader Ram Madhav tweeted today that a compromise between the government and the families has been reached. The burials will take place within a week according to sources in the office of Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

None of the three land proposals are being implemented for now; the BJP government will hold talks with tribal groups and others to decide what happens next. "All nine martyrs, including my son, will stay in the morgue until justice is done," Hau Lian Ching, the mother of an 18-year-old shot at the land protest told news agency AFP ahead of the state election that saw the BJP taking charge of Manipur in March. 

"The demands of our people must be met before we can bury them," she said.

The deaths in Churachandpur heightened the anger of tribal groups who saw the land bills as part of a plot by the majority Meitei community to deprive them of their ancestral rights.

A group from one of the state's largest minority tribes, the Naga, launched a blockade of the main highway into the state capital Imphal in November, leading to shortages and big price hikes for basic commodities. Military aircraft were deployed to deliver fuel and other essential supplies. The blockade, which lasted five months ended in March 2016.

Supporters of the bills at the centre of the controversy say the legislation will regularise a system of buying and selling land. But opponents say it will effectively end the tribal groups' sovereign rights over their land which they argue is enshrined in the constitution.

(with inputs from AFP)