The Supreme Court has said it will give one week for everyone to claim bodies of the victims of Manipur violence which erupted on May 3, 2023.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Tuesday went through the three-member committee report, appointed and directed by the SC to oversee relief, rehabilitation and rebuilding measures in Manipur.
It may be recalled that the Supreme Court in October 2023 had appointed three-member committee, headed by former Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice Gita Mittal, former Bombay High Court Judge Shalini Phansalkar Joshi and former Delhi High Court Judge Asha Menon. The committee had visited strife torn districts of Manipur joined by Chief Secretary Vineet Joshi to assess the situation.
The CJI on Tuesday said the State can bury bodies of victims identified by next of kin lying in morgue in a dignified manner in any of the nine burial sites identified by the state government, giving victims’ kin in Manipur one week to claim dead bodies, failing which the State government can perform the last rites.
The bench also said that “it would not be appropriate to keep the bodies which have not been identified or claimed indefinitely in mortuaries.”
CJI according to Live Law said: “As per the statement 169 out of 175 dead bodies have been identified. 6 bodies remain to be identified. Of the 169 identified dead bodies, 81 have been claimed by next of kin while 88 have not been claimed; Of those bodies unidentified, the CJI as per Live Law said the State is at liberty to give dignified burial in terms of SoP.”
In August 2023, the High Court of Manipur issued directions as an interim measure to prevent violence in connection with the controversial site at Torbung Bangla under Bishnupur District, which the Kuki community had chosen for the mass burial of 35 kuki-Zos who had died in ongoing Manipur violence.
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In response to the HC order, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum on the same day on August 3, 2023, delayed the burial and had submitted a letter to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah for consideration of demands for the Kuki-Zo tribals of Manipur. The five demands raised that day included the legalisation of the burial site in S. Boljang of Churachandpur, Manipur (Dag No. 2022, 2025, 2161 and 2162 of 98-Torbung Lourup of Churachandpur district). ITLF had demanded that the dead bodies of the Kuki-Zo communities lying in Imphal should be brought to Lamka (Churachandpur).