The mortal remains of Rishang Keishing, former Manipur CM and a member of the first Lok Sabha, were buried in Imphal Thursday, reportedly after threats from the NSCN(IM) that they would not allow the body to be taken to his native village Bungpa Khunou in present-day Ukhrul district.
While his family had on Wednesday announced in Imphal that Keishing’s body would be taken to Bungpa Khunou for the final rites, they were eventually completed at his residence at Mantripukhuri in the heart of Imphal amid tight security on Thursday afternoon.
Though no government or family source revealed why his body was not taken to his native village, former CM and senior Congress leader Okram Ibobi Singh told The Indian Express that it was “most unfortunate” that Rishang Keishing’s body was not allowed to be taken to his village.
“He (Keishing) had always wanted to be buried in his native village. So we requested NSCN(IM) to let us take him there for burial. They have also banned his son Victor Keishing, an MLA, from going there. So we buried him in Imphal,” Ibobi Singh said over the telephone from Imphal.
“Rishang Keishing was a nationalist and a veteran politician. He was the last living member of the first Lok Sabha. They (NSCN) should have allowed, this is most unfortunate. There were hundreds waiting there to pay him last respects. He believed that all Manipuris — Meiteis and tribals — should live peacefully together with other Indians. This did not fit their (NSCN) agenda. Maybe they thought he’s anti-Naga. I don’t know,” Ibobi Singh said.
Interestingly, in 1994, when Keishing was CM, then Governor Gen V K Nayar accused him of extending clandestine support to the NSCN(IM). Keishing, however, was almost always a target of the group, which made at least one major attempt on his life on December 6, 1983.
No confirmation or denial could be obtained from the NSCN(IM) on the alleged threat. Sources said Chief Minister N Biren Singh had personally reviewed the situation following “serious threat perceptions” before Keishing’s family agreed to bury him in Imphal.