TODAY -

The darker side of Kuki CSOs
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: November 30, 2023 -



SUBSEQUENT to its appointment by the Supreme Court on August 7 last; the three-member committee of all women judges, which was set upto oversee the humanitarian aspects such as payment of compensation and rehabilitation of victims of the violence which broke out in the tiny northeastern Indian state of Manipur on May 3 last, has done a commendable job and submitted various reports to the apex court.

The committee headed by former jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief justice Gita Mittal and comprising Bombay High Court former judge Shalini Phansalkar Joshi and Delhi High Court former judge Asha Menon as members prepared these reports after visiting the strife torn districts of Manipur to assess the situation on the ground along with Chief Secretary Vineet Joshi.

In its earlier reports, the committee had highlighted the need for regeneration of thousands of essential documents that have been lost or destroyed in the violence, ensuring substantial improvements in the existing compensation scheme which disqualifies recipients from availing benefits if they have already been covered by other programmes and making it to conform with the framework of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) scheme for compensating female victims of sexual violence and other crimes, etc.

In one of its reports, the committee had also pointed out the need for identifying "local administrative experts" to oversee payment of compensation to victims of violence, providing comprehensive psychological assistance and ensuring mental health care and other necessary medical care to displaced people living in relief camps.

Each ofthese reports delved into different aspects of the violence that broke out between the Meetei/Meitei and Kuki-Chin communities after a Tribal Solidarity March taken out in the hill districts on May 3 last in protest against a directive of High Court of Manipur given to the Government of Manipur for sending recommendation to the centre for inclusion of Meetei/Meitei in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST) turned violent in Churachandpur district and other Kuki-Chin dominated areas, where the houses of Meetei/Meitei were targeted, forcing people in the valley to retaliate.

However, the 13th and 14th report of the committee which were submitted to the apex court on November 20 have revealed something very disturbing - the darker side of civil society organisations (CSOs), which are supposedly working for the welfare of Kuki-Chin community.

The two reports have shown how the CSOs are exerting pressure on the next of kin to not accept mortal remains of their loved ones, who lost their lives in the ongoing violence, for performing their last rites, apart from obstructing acceptance of ex-gratia by kin to keep the ethnic cauldron boiling.

While the 13th report of the committee has pointed that "though most of the next of kin were willing to accept the dead bodies for performing the last rites, there is tremendous pressure upon them from civil society organisations active in the state not to accept the bodies or perform last rites", the committee's 14th report underlined that even though the State government had decided to pay an ex-gratia compensation of 10 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased, some were reluctant to accept the same, owing to influence of the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), Joint Philanthropic Organisations (JPO), Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) and other civil society groups.

The committee has even gone on to the extent of accusing some elements of wanting to keep Manipur in a state of perpetual chaos, and not providing accurate information on the situation to the Supreme Court, when it said that "there are elements interested in maintenance of tensions between the communities and preventing restoration of peace and harmony in the State. For this reason, the true and correct facts of the matter are also not being placed before this Hon'ble Court".

Now that the apex law court of the country has also made it clear that it does not want to keep the pot boiling over dead bodies, perhaps, it's time for the Kuki-Chin CSOs to read the writing on the wall and stop doing cheap politics over the dead bodies of their own people to "derive mileage" and "compel authorities to meet unwanted demands".



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