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SC Panel Urges Manipur Government to Address Unclaimed Bodies from Ethnic Violence

SC Panel Urges Manipur Government to Address Unclaimed Bodies from Ethnic Violence

Gangtokian News Desk: A Supreme Court-appointed committee has provided recommendations to the Manipur government regarding the handling of unclaimed bodies resulting from the recent ethnic violence in the state. The committee has called for a respectful and organized approach to address this sensitive issue.

Identifying the Unclaimed Bodies

The committee’s advice to the N. Biren Singh government includes the publication of a comprehensive list of individuals who lost their lives during the recent violence. This list aims to provide transparency and clarity regarding the casualties.

Unclaimed Bodies Remain in Morgues

According to Manipur Police, as of the latest count, there are 96 unclaimed bodies in various morgues across the state. This number stands in stark contrast to the official death toll of 175. The challenge of claiming bodies is exacerbated by the complex ethnic and political dynamics in Manipur, where different communities control various areas.

Ethnic Politics and Unclaimed Bodies

One illustrative example highlighted by the Indian Express is the situation in Churachandpur. Despite 35 of the bodies in a local morgue belonging to the dominant Kuki-Zomi community, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) had advised families not to claim them. This decision was seen as a means to exert pressure on the government to address transportation issues related to bodies in the Imphal area, which is under Meitei control.

The Committee’s Recommendations

The committee, led by retired J&K high court Chief Justice Gita Mittal and consisting of two other women judges, has urged the Manipur government to proactively identify the next of kin of these unclaimed bodies. They recommended that, after the publication of the list, the bodies that still go unclaimed should be handled with respect and dignity.

Efforts to Enhance Victim Compensation

In an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court last week, Manipur Chief Secretary Vineet Joshi stated that measures had already been taken to enhance the state’s victim compensation scheme. This affidavit also acknowledges the advice provided by the committee on the proper handling of unclaimed bodies.

As Manipur grapples with the aftermath of ethnic violence, the committee’s recommendations offer a path forward to address the sensitive issue of unclaimed bodies, ensuring that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Gangtokian Web Team, 25/09/23

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