The Manipur Tribal Forum in Delhi (MTFD) submitted an additional affidavit on Friday, under PIL 540 of 2023 before the Supreme Court of India, shedding light on the gruesome killings and destruction carried out by miscreants, with no arrests or FIR filed in connection to the incidents in Manipur. The forum has expressed concern over the ongoing violence in the state and has provided a list of the number of killings that are still occurring, despite assurances from the Centre and directions from the Supreme Court, no investigation has been conducted yet.
The affidavit, presented by L. Singson of New Delhi, provides crucial details regarding the continued violence and the failure of the Indian government to address the situation effectively. The affidavit emphasises the importance of recording the killings that have taken place after the Union of India’s repeated assurances to the court on May 8, May 17, and July 3, 2023.
The court, during the May 8 hearing, received assurances from Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India, regarding the steps being taken to restore normalcy in Manipur. These steps included the deployment of 32 companies of Central Armed Police Forces and 105 columns of the Army/Assam Rifles, flag marches in disturbed areas, appointment of senior-level security advisors, peace meetings, vigilance, and the use of helicopters and drones for monitoring the situation.
The Tribal Forum informed the Apex Court of the situation on the ground in Manipur by presenting a list of 107 names of individuals who were purportedly killed by miscreants in the state, among other incidents following the May 8 assurances. Even on July 3, the Union of India sought more time, while on the same day, a tribal individual was beheaded, and a mentally challenged tribal woman was killed.
The affidavit further highlights specific incidents of brutality, including the murder and beheading of David Thiek Hmar, a 35-year-old belonging to the Kuki-Zo tribe, by armed groups in Langza Village, Churachandpur District. The assailant, identified as Mairembam Romesh Mangang, shockingly described himself as the “PRO to Hon’ble MLA Kumbi.”
In a panel discussion on a news channel, Professor Bhagat Oinam, who teaches at JNU and belongs to the Meitei/Meetei community, made a controversial statement regarding the beheading of David Thiek Hmar, stated the affidavit. Professor Oinam commented, “This beheading and all is very unfortunate but then in a lighter way the northeast is well known as headhunting communities so Kukis have hunted heads, Nagas have hunted heads, Meiteis/Meeteis have also been doing it. After we became Vaishnas we stopped all these but then somehow Kukis have provoked our old habit so we are all head hunting now.”
Furthermore, Professor Oinam stated that “We Meiteis/Meeteis have become tribals. We are as ferocious and unmindful like the Kukis and the Nagas. So we are all in the same boat so let us also become Scheduled Tribes now.”
Additionally, they further mention the incident occurred on July 6, where Hangzo Debora Donngaihching, a mentally-challenged tribal woman from the Kuki-Zo community, was shot dead by unidentified militants near Shishu Nishtha Niketan School in Kwakeithel, Imphal West. The forum has urged the court to take necessary measures for the rehabilitation of these affected individuals and safeguard religious places.