Home » Uneven Send-off: Meitei Last Rites Without Bodies, Government Hands Over 60 Kuki Remains a Day Prior

Uneven Send-off: Meitei Last Rites Without Bodies, Government Hands Over 60 Kuki Remains a Day Prior

by Aribam Bishwajit
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Uneven Send-off: Meitei Last Rites Without Bodies, Government Hands Over 60 Kuki Remains a Day Prior

Despite the successful relocation and subsequent handover of 60 bodies belonging to the Kuki community in the hill districts of Churachandpur and Kangpokpi, a poignant disparity persists, leaving many bodies of the Meitei community conspicuously absent. Regrettably, the government has encountered formidable challenges in locating and facilitating the return of these missing bodies to the grieving Meitei community.
The disparity in the handling of the deceased becomes palpable when considering that the Kuki community has been granted the opportunity to conduct the solemn last rites for their 60 individuals, fostering closure and a sense of finality. In stark contrast, the Meitei communities find themselves mired in a painful limbo, yearning to lay eyes on the lifeless forms of their loved ones, as these bodies remain elusive and unaccounted for.
In a deeply heart-wrenching turn of events, the government’s inability to locate and deliver the bodies of Atom Samarendra Singh and Yumkhaibam Kirankumar Singh to their grieving families has added a poignant layer of sorrow to an already tragic situation. The duo, reportedly captured and killed by Kuki militants, has left their families in an agonizing state of uncertainty. Today, in the absence of their physical remains, the poignant last rites were performed, adhering to Manipuri customary practices. The somber ceremony unfolded in Khumbong, where ‘Pangong’ tree planks were reverently used as symbolic substitutes for their bodies.
The anguish of the families, compounded by the lack of closure due to the missing bodies, has resonated throughout the community. Desperate appeals from family members, locals, civil society organizations, student groups, and numerous others have consistently implored the government to intensify its efforts in locating the whereabouts of Atom Samarendra Singh and Yumkhaibam Kirankumar Singh. Despite these impassioned pleas and the collective yearning for resolution, the government’s response has, unfortunately, fallen short.
Kavita, the wife of Samarendra, expressed her profound disappointment with the government’s disparate treatment, highlighting the stark contrast between the expeditious handling of Kuki victims’ bodies and the lingering uncertainty surrounding her husband’s fate. Speaking to the media, she underscored the government’s success in locating and handing over the bodies of Kuki victims while lamenting its failure to extend the same effort and compassion to her husband and numerous other missing Meiteis who fell victim to Kuki militants. Despite having performed the last rites in the absence of her husband’s physical remains, Kavita emphatically asserted her enduring desire for the government to intensify its efforts in locating and bringing closure to the families of the missing Meiteis.
Basanti, the wife of the late Yumkhaibam Kirankumar, echoed a similar sentiment of sorrow and frustration. She revealed her profound sadness at having to carry out the last rites for her husband without the solace of his physical presence. In a poignant reflection on the ordeal, Basanti lamented the unfortunate circumstances that compelled her and others to navigate the deeply distressing experience of bidding farewell to their loved ones without the closure of a proper burial. She expressed a fervent hope that such heart-wrenching incidents and grievances would not befall other families, emphasizing the urgent need for a more comprehensive and empathetic approach to addressing the complex aftermath of these unfortunate events.
In a poignant display of gratitude and remembrance, the Imphal West Students’ Club in Khumbong paid heartfelt homage to the late Atom Samarendra Singh and Yumkhaibam Kirankumar Singh, who were members of the club. The premises of the club became a solemn backdrop for an emotional ceremony, where two memorial stones were unveiled, immortalizing their names and commemorating them as the bravehearts of Khumbong. This significant tribute unfolded under the auspices of President of All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union, Bijoy Kakchingtabam, and President of Imphal West Students’ Club, Khumbong, Oinam Samarendra Singh.
The unveiling of these memorial stones, etched with the names of the departed individuals, served as a symbolic gesture to honor their memory and acknowledge their contributions to the community. A somber atmosphere enveloped the gathering, as thousands of men, women, and children came together to witness both the poignant last rites and the unveiling of the memorial stones. The collective outpouring of grief and respect was palpable, underscoring the deep impact of the alleged kidnapping, torture, and killing of the duo by Kuki militants.
Floral tributes adorned the memorial stones, a poignant gesture expressing the community’s enduring love and appreciation for the departed souls. The unveiling ceremony not only provided a space for communal mourning but also served as a stark reminder of the need for unity and resilience in the face of such tragic events.
The tragic events surrounding the alleged abduction of Atom Samarendra Singh and Yumkhaibam Kirankumar Singh unfolded in the stark light of day at Sangaithel Olympian Park on May 6, casting a shadow over the community. According to accounts from the Imphal West Students’ Club, Khumbong, the duo, both 47 years old, were reportedly the first two individuals to go missing when the clashes erupted in the state, adding a chilling dimension to the unfolding tragedy.
Atom Samarendra Singh, a resident of Khumbong Mayai Leikai, had previously served as a Sub Editor at The Sangai Express before joining the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) at Lamphelpat as a Junior Assistant (Administration). Beyond his professional endeavors, he played a crucial role as the general secretary of IWSCK. His untimely departure left a void not only in the journalistic community but also in the hearts of his family, including his wife Kabita Devi and two sons.
Y Kirankumar Singh, the other unfortunate soul, leaves behind a grieving family as well. Survived by his wife Basanti and three children—a son and two daughters—Kirankumar was an integral member of IWSCK. The profound loss of these two individuals has sent shockwaves through the community, underscoring the indiscriminate impact of the violence that has marred the region. As the community gathered to pay respects and unveil memorial stones in their honor, the pain of their absence resonated deeply.

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