Four women reach Delhi seeking justice

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Four women reach Delhi seeking justice

It has been 239 days since their sons died but nine Manipuri mothers have not buried them.

The sons, including an 11-year-old boy, were killed last year allegedly in police firing in the hill district of Churachandpur district in Manipur, when they came out to protest against three contentious Bills passed by the State Assembly which they say infringe on the rights of tribal people. The bodies are lying in a morgue in Churachandpur district, which has become a centre of protests over the last eight months.

Four women from Manipur, representing the mothers who lost their sons in the police firing, have for the past three days been knocking at the doors of Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, seeking justice.

The eight others killed were aged between 20 and 30, most of them students.

Accompanied by BJP MP Tarun Vijay, the women say they will not bury the bodies till they get an assurance that the three Bills, passed by the Assembly in August last year, would be withdrawn.

In September 2015, violence erupted in Manipur after the passage of the Bills — the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015, and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015.

Though yet to become law, the Bills caused resentment among the tribals who feared that their land rights would be snatched by "outsiders."

While Meitis, who live in the Valley consider the Bills will protect them from outsiders, the people who live in the hills such as Kukis and Nagas see it as a threat to their identity and rights over land.

Mr. Vijay, who arranged a meeting of these women with Mr. Rajnath Singh, said, "I have requested them to bury the bodies first. Their children deserve a respectful burial. They can continue their struggle but there should be no politics over the dead bodies."

Buonozamawi (50), one of the Manipuri women, says they have been collecting money since December for their Delhi visit. "Since it's a poor State and most of the people are cultivators, we got donations of Rs. 10-20 maximum from each individual. We have been collecting the money since December and in April, we could reach the Rs.1.5-lakh mark," said Ms. Buonozamawi.

Her friend, Minzsial (53), said they also met the Congress president, who gave them a patient hearing. "Since Manipur is ruled by the Congress, we expected her to help us. She said she would speak to the Chief Minister. She asked why the Centre was not helping us?" said Ms. Minzsial.

~ The Hindu.