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CHURACHANDPUR AT PEACE

                                                                     -Sunzu Bachaspatimatum

Whenever I remember my son, the horrific image of him lying on the hospital bed with all his intestines protruding out come back to me and I remember him telling me, “dad, I’m in great pain. Kindly do something.”

This is the memory that haunts 70 year old Ginza Lian since the day his 42 year old son, K.Lam Khenthang got hit in his stomach by a police bullet while attempting to help another bullet wounded person in front of the Churachandpur police station on 1st September, a day after angry mob attacked the private residences of elected representatives of Churachandpur district. The mob violence was in retaliation of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, on 31st August 2015, passing three bills – the Manipur Protection bill 2015, Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reform Act 7th Amendment bill and the Manipur Shops & Establishment Bills. The violence that engulfed Churachandpur, the southernmost district of Manipur, bordering Myanmar, killed at least 9 protestors either in the mob arson attacks or in police firing. This protest subsequently came to be known as the antitribal bill movement. The Joint Action Committee, JAC against the three anti-tribal bills that was constituted by the protestors, demanded amongst others – adopting the 6th Scheduled, reinstate the Manipur Land Reform & Land Revenue Act of 1960, scrapping of the three bills and creation of a new district called Lamka by fragmenting Churachandpur districts. This issue became a rallying point for the different tribal communities of Manipur, those who were traditionally divided along ethnic lines, especially between the Chin- Kuki-Mizo group and the Naga groups and in unison Final farewell to the Martrys at Public Ground Churachandpur demanded the scraping of the three bills. They termed the bills as anti-tribal saying the bills propose to infringe upon the constitutional safeguards provided for land ownership of the tribal as well as deny citizenship to indigenous tribal of Manipur by declaring 1951 as the cut-off year for recognition in the registrar of citizenship of Manipur.

 Protestors argued that in 1951 the hills of Manipur was largely un-administered and settlement records were not comprehensively maintained. The JAC declared those killed as Martyrs and refused to accept the mortal remains until its charter of demands were met.