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Tribal women group in Manipur seeks withdrawal of remarks by SG

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NEW DELHI, Aug 7 (PTI): A Delhi-NCR-based women’s organisation of the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi community of Manipur has demanded the withdrawal of a remark made by solicitor general Tushar Mehta in the Supreme Court where he had reportedly said that most of the unclaimed bodies of the ethnic violence in Manipur belong to those of “infiltrators”.

In a statement, the UNAU Tribal Women’s Forum, Delhi-NCR, said the mothers of the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi community of Manipur, represented by the group, are “deeply hurt and appalled” by the remarks made by the solicitor general in the Supreme Court on August 1.

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“Such a loose and unfounded remark from the solicitor general of the country is unbecoming, unacceptable and abhorrent. It is deeply hurtful to the families of the dead who, till today, are unable to perform the last rites of their loved ones,” the group said.

In some cases, the women’s body claimed, where the bodies are lying in Imphal, the bereaved families are unable to access the bodies due to the prevailing security situation in which “they will face certain death” if they were to try and retrieve the bodies.

It said that the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi community has been making repeated calls for these bodies to be brought to Churachandpur “to no effect”.

The women’s group said calling any citizen of India “an infiltrator or illegal migrant” without basis or proof is a serious matter and “it is tantamount to lying and misleading the court, and does not behove someone holding the office of the second highest law office of the country”.

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“In view of the foregoing, UNAU Tribal Women’s Forum, Delhi-NCR representing the mothers of the Kuki-Hmar-Zomi community, demands withdrawal of the remarks from solicitor general Shri Tushar Mehta…,” the group said.

According to media reports, Mehta, appearing for both the union and Manipur governments, on August 1, told the Supreme Court that “most of the unclaimed bodies are of infiltrators”.

His remark came towards the end of a half-day-long hearing on the violence in Manipur, before a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud.

“But at the end of it, the people who were raped and murdered were our people, right? Therefore, we have to ensure that justice is done, that is all,” the Chief Justice laid down the court’s stand.

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Mehta had intervened at this point, saying that “most of the unclaimed bodies are those infiltrators… Those who came with a particular design and got killed… I don’t wish to mention anything further and vitiate things…”

However, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said, “118 tribal bodies are in the morgue in Imphal”.

Appearing for tribal communities, he submitted, “The bodies are unidentified for months. They are rotting. We cannot go there to identify them. No attempt is being made to help us identify”.

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