The people of Churachandpur on Wednesday finally laid to rest the bodies of the eight activists who had lost their lives during agitation against the former Ibobi Singh government in Manipur after protesting for 632 days. The protesters agreed to bury the bodies after the present BJP government signed an agreement on the issue of implementation of an Inner Line Permit that restricts outsider entry in the state.
The last rites of the activists were performed after the BJP government struck an agreement with the Joint Action Committee Against the Anti-Tribal Bill (JACATB), news agency ANI reported. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Manipur Cheif Secretary O Nabakishore Singh and members f the JACATB earlier this month.
The government agreed to give compensation to the families of those who died on August 31, 2015 during the protest and set up memorials for them. It further concurred to be inclusive of tribal opinion in future matters and probe the deaths of the activists. Following this agreement the Joint Action Committee conceded to burying the eight bodies that were kept in a cold storage at a local morgue for over 18 months. Purportedly their were nine bodies but one was reported stolen.
Besides signing the MoU, the government also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh and permanent employment to the next of kin of those who died in the protest while also promising Rs 50,ooo to the injured and Rs 2 lakh to those who were disabled during the violence.
The protest over Inner Line Permit began in Imphal valley to generate pressure on the government to implement in which a 17-year-old died. Following this the government tabled three Bills in the assembly to protect indigenous rights but raised concern for the tribals who called them anti-tribal. Violent protests broke out in Churachandpur the same day as the Bills were tabled in which houses of elected representatives were burnt. The situation worsened with counter protests damaging the relation of the dominant Hindu Meitei population with the tribals, largely Christians, beyond repair. The tribals were primarily against the Protection of Manipur People’s Bill which sought setting up of a committee to categorise people as Manipuri and non-Manipuri.
The President, however, withheld the Bill, the Union Home Ministry said on May 11, 2016 while The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (7th amendment ) Bill, 2015, and Manipur Shops and Establishments (2nd amendment) Bill, 2015 were pending with the Centre.