The Manipur government on Thursday, 14 December, airlifted the bodies of 64 victims and returned them to their respective families in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, and Imphal districts. The bodies were taken from different mortuaries amid tight security.
It's been more than seven months since the conflict between the Meiteis and the Kukis began, and there seems to be no end in sight.
Due to the relentless violence, the Kuki-majority areas in the hills and the Meitei-majority areas in the Valley have become impossible for Meiteis and Kukis to access, respectively. This made it very difficult for families to collect the mortal remains of their kin.
A Supreme Court ruling passed on 28 November called for the dignified burial and cremation of all those killed in the ethnic violence.
According to a report submitted by the state government to the apex court, 175 people have been killed in the violence, of which 169 have been identified. Out of these 169 victims, the bodies of 81 had been handed over to their families before Thursday's exchange.
The 64 bodies that were exchanged on Thursday are part of the group of 88 bodies that had been identified but not claimed by their families.
Of the total 60 bodies of Kuki-Zo victims, that were lying at the mortuaries of the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal West and JNIMS (Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences) in Imphal East, 41 were airlifted to Churachandpur and the remaining 19 to Kangpokpi.
The bodies of four Meiteis that were kept at Churachandpur mortuary were also airlifted and handed over to their families in Imphal.
They have been identified as Pichimayum Ibochou (50) of Sabungkhok in Imphal East, Soibam Othello Singh (45) of Sagolband Heinoubok in Imphal West, Kshetrimayum Sunilkumar (22) of Kumbi in Bishnupur and Abujam Ibemhal (65) of Khuga Tampak of Churachandpur.
Before the 41 bodies of Kuki-Zo victims were airlifted to Churachandpur, the bodies of 24 victims were already lying at the mortuary of their district. Civil bodies and the bereaved families, however, had refused to claim them till the bodies lying at Imphal's morgues were brought back.