The Churachandpur Incident

"The Chrurachandpur Incident"

Churachandpur, Manipur, India:
On just two days — August 31 and September 1, 2015 — nine people died in police firing and violence during mass protests against three new state bills. The largest district in Manipur, CCpur as it's commonly known, lies only 65km south of the capital, Imphal, which had recently witnessed a two-month-long agitation for an Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in the state. (The ILP is currently operational in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.) Just as those protests died down, Manipur was on the boil again with the passage of three land bills that the hill tribes are opposed to, on the grounds that they play into the hands of the Meiteis, the dominant inhabitants of the #Imphal valley that makes up 10 percent of the landmass of the state.

One of the most controversial clauses relates to the right to property ownership. The state assembly has set 1951 as the base year to identify non-indigenous people, who are regarded as outsiders by a section of Manipuris. The law decrees that those who settled in Manipur after 1951 will have to give up property and may even have to leave the state.

The tribal communities in Churachandpur, were incensed that the laws would make them foreigners in their own land and they rallied against the government in large numbers. In the widespread violence that ensued, the houses of some of their elected representatives were burnt down. The police action led to nine deaths, followed by a curfew that paralysed normal life in this volatile region.

The coffins of the nine dead are still in the District Hospital. Families wait for a resolution, which appears exceedingly and now almost three months after the incident, disturbingly difficult, before they are ready to bury their loved ones.

Frontier Dispatched by Vivek Singh.