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“Without Closure…”: Manipur Group Asks Government To Find Bodies Of Students

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Photos showing the bodies of the two students emerged on social media on September 26

Imphal/New Delhi:

A US-based group of professionals from Manipur has requested the government to find the bodies of two students who were murdered by miscreants in July, amid the ethnic violence between the hill-majority Kuki tribes and the valley-majority Meiteis.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has so far arrested three men and two women in the case of kidnapping and murder of the two students, both minors. The alleged mastermind in the case was arrested on Wednesday from Pune in Maharashtra. He was brought to Assam’s Guwahati, where a local court handed him over to CBI custody for questioning.

“… Their untimely departure has left a void that can never be filled, leaving their families… in profound grief. We seek the support of all our elected representatives and the public in bringing the bodies home,” the Association of Meiteis in the Americas (AMA) said in a statement.

“The importance of finding their bodies cannot be overstated. Without this closure, it would equate to an unforgivable act akin to war crimes,” the AMA said.

“In these dark times, it is essential that we come together as a community to provide support and solidarity. Together, we can seek answers and put an end to the violence that has cast a shadow over our homeland,” the AMA said in the statement.

A crack unit of the Manipur Police and the Indian Army in a joint operation had captured the first four suspects from the hill district Churachandpur, where ethnic violence began on May 3.

The photos showing the bodies of the two students emerged on social media on September 26, after which the Manipur government assured swift action. The CBI had been already looking into this case, though the bodies of the two students were yet to be found. Investigators have also looked into allegations of rape before the minor was murdered, sources have told String Reveals.

Before the photos emerged on social media, the police had said the whereabouts of the two were unknown and their mobile phones were found switched off. The last location of their mobile phones, however, was traced to Lamdan near Churachandpur district. Several Kuki insurgent groups that have signed the tripartite suspension of operations (soo) agreement are based in this hill district.

The photos show the two students – both 17 years old – sitting at the grassy compound of what appears to be a makeshift jungle camp of an armed group, before their bodies were dumped on a hillside.

Ethnic violence between the Kuki tribes and the Meiteis began on May 3, following a protest by the Kukis over the Meiteis’ demand for Scheduled Tribes (st) status. Over 180 have died and thousands have been internally displaced.