TODAY -

Symbolic burial conducted for missing Kuki-Zo duo
Source: Chronicle News Service

Kangpokpi, May 24 2024: Thousands of Kuki-Zo people, along with families, loved ones, and friends of the two Kuki-Zo volunteers killed in Phailengmol area on April 13, held a symbolic burial ceremony at the Martyrs' Cemetery, Phaijang, in Kangpokpi district under the aegis of Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU), Kang pokpi, on Friday, more than a month after the killings.

"Banana stems" were placed inside the coffins of the two Kuki-Zo volunteers, Kamlengsat Khongsai and Kamminlal Lupheng, whose remains are still missing.

This symbolic act underscores the desperation and grief faced by the families who cannot locate remains of their loved ones.

The practice of using banana stems in funerary rituals is not new for the Kuki-Zo community, as their customs, culture, and tradition sometimes involve using symbolic objects in the absence of a body.

The killing of Kamlengsat and Kamminlal in the Phailengmol area on April 13 was condemned as "the century's most gruesome human rights offence" considering the brutality and inhumane nature of the crime committed by the perpetrators on the two bodies.

The armed persons dragged the bodies of the two fallen Kuki-Zo volunteers, brutalised their faces, shot them multiple times after desecration, and hacked their arms with machetes, prompting widespread con demnation.

It may be recalled that CoTU had organised a 2-km long protest rally and imposed a 24-hour total shutdown in response to the killings.

Additionally, CoTU also closed down government offices in the district which remains enforced to date.

In a gesture honouring their two, CoTU enforced a 9-hour total shutdown throughout Kangpokpi district from 9 am till 6 pm on Friday, while halting all government and private operations, along with business activities.

Mourning, under the aegis of Kangpokpi Town Committee, KYU, and KWWO, began on Thursday night at Brigadier M Thomas Ground, Kangpokpi town, where the coffins of the two missing volunteers were kept in the office of CbTU.

In Phaijang's Kuki-Zo Martyrs' Cemetery on Friday, thousands congregated for a solemn symbolic burial ceremony, paying their respects with heartfelt condolences and a reverent gun salute.

Kuki-Zo Christian Relief Committee secretary Dr Reverend Satkai Chongloi conducted the symbolic burial ceremony under the theme "You Sacrifice Your Today for Our Tomorrow".

Family members of the two, representatives of the Sadar Hills Chiefs' Association, Kuki Inpi Sadar Hills, Phailengmol Core Committee, and leaders from various other organisations, spoke at the event.

On the sidelines of the burial ceremony, CoTU Media Cell coordinator Ng Lun Kipgen said that together with our people, and the family members have accorded our two fallen Kuki-Zo volunteers, Kamlengsat Lunkim and Kamminlal Lupheng, the highest tribute for their selfless sacrifice to defend our land and for our freedom from subjugation from the government as we have performed their last ritual-rites at Martyrs' Cemetery, Phaijang.

Expressing strong discontentment over the government's failure to hand over bodies of the two volunteers, Lun Kipgen recalled the fervent appeal made to locate their bodies and hand them over to the families for an honourable burial.

"By failing to locate the bodies of our two fallen heroes and showing complete lack of concern over closure of government offices in the district, the state government has once again proven our complete separation.

In acknowledgment of this divide, we have decided to conduct a symbolic burial ceremony for our two fallen heroes," he reasoned.

Lun further said that the current dispensation's inability to address crimes against the Kuki-Zo community is a clear indication of the existence of a separate administration between the Kuki-Zo tribal Christian community-dominated hills and the valley predominantly occupied by the Meetei community.

Therefore, reaffirming our faith in the Central Government and with the mandate of our people, the Committee urges central investigating agencies to take up the case of (L) Kamlengsat Lunkim and (L) Kamminlal Lupheng, he further added.

In connection with the closure of government offices, Ng Lun Kipgen said that having now performed the burial rites for our beloved fallen heroes, we have resolved to reopen the government offices, which were shut indefinitely on May 27 as these institutions hold no significance for us any longer.


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