Violence: Bodies of 96 dead in Manipur strife still lie unclaimed

GUWAHATI: Morgues at three state-run hospitals of Manipur, two in Imphal and one in Churachandpur, house 96 unclaimed bodies that constitute 55% of the officially confirmed death toll of 175 in the ethnic conflict since May that has kept people of the valley and the hills sequestered on either side of the divide.
Most of the unclaimed bodies are suspected to be of victims from the hill districts, from where very few have travelled to the Imphal valley, Churachandpur or other contiguous areas inhabited by the majority Meitei community.
A tribal man whose daughter was allegedly gang raped and killed in an Imphal car wash along with another young woman on May 4 remains fearful of travelling to Imphal to claim her body, kept at the morgue of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences.
“I have made several requests to the government to hand over the bodies of my daughter and her friend as we cannot travel to Imphal now. We are still waiting,” he said from a relief camp at Saikul, part of the Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council.
Nine of the unclaimed bodies are still to be identified, police said at a media briefing by three IGPs late Thursday that marked the first instance of the administration giving a break-up of deaths, injuries and people reported missing over the past four months of violence.
Of the unclaimed bodies, 54 are in the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (28) and Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (26) in Imphal. The remaining 42 are at Churachandpur District Hospital.
A total of 1,108 people were wounded since the violence started on May 3, the police said. The number of people reported missing stands at 32.
The IGPs said 5,172 cases of arson had been reported and 4,786 homes reduced to ashes. Vandals also targeted 254 churches and 132 temples, they said.
Security forces dismantled 360 bunkers built by village volunteers assigned by their communities to stave off intrusions by armed outfits and rioters.
Of the weapons that were looted from armouries of state forces or snatched from security personnel, 1,359 firearms and 15,050 rounds of ammunition have been recovered so far, the police said. Preventive arrests as of Thursday stood at 37,286.
IGP (operations) I K Muivah said the decision to put these statistics in the public domain was part of a confidence-building measure “so that in this challenging situation and times that Manipur is in, we can reassure the public that the police, central forces and the civil administration are trying round-the-clock to bring back normalcy”.
Muivah said Manipur Police had collaborated with central forces to set up additional checkpoints and gone after outfits fomenting trouble.

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