NEW DELHI/IMPHAL: The Joint Action Committee has indefinitely postponed the funeral scheduled for November 30 of the nine Manipur residents who died while protesting the controversial land legislations passed by the state Assembly. The standoff between the protesters and the authorities continues, with tensions rising sharply.

“There is no effort made to resolve the issue so far. After the visit of officials from the Union Ministry, we were all very hopeful. There is no progress in the matter not even a written assurance. Therefore we will wait till we hear from them,’ H. Mangchinkhup, the Chief Convenor of JAC told The Citizen that they have taken a decision today to postpone it indefinitely.

Earlier, about a fortnight ago, the tribal leaders along with the JAC noted the necessity of maintaining a united stand as the movement has crossed seventy-five days, and reaffirmed their commitment to work as a united force until the movement reaches its logical and desired conclusion.

‘There is such disappointment among the people. Words are not enough to describe it. There was hope and expectations which is now dying slowly. There is no sense of belonging among us. The assurances have to be translated into real words and actions. Clearly, that is missing,’ said . Mangchinkhup.

The failure of the state and central government to break the logjam has now compelled the JAC to postpone the planned funeral indefinitely. The funeral would have spelt closure by assuaging the angry and hurt sentiments of the people about the deaths of innocent protestors.

The Protection of Manipur People Bill, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Bill, and the Manipur Shops and Establishments Bill by the state are the reason behind the mass agitation. These Bills were passed by the Manipur State Assembly on August 31.

Tribes like Nagas, Kukis, Zomis and Hmars have claimed that the three bills would directly undermine the existing safeguards for the tribal hill areas regarding land ownership and population influx as the primary threat for the tribal people came not from outside the state but also from the Meitei people from the valley itself. They are calling it a policy to divide the hill tribes.

Since the day, the bills were passed, protesters, mainly from tribal organisations in the hills of the state, torched five houses belonging to Congress lawmakers. These included the houses of state Health and Family Welfare Minister Phungzathang Tonsing and Lok Sabha member from Outer Manipur Thangso Baite in Churachandpur district.

While protesting over this issue many locals got injured while nine people were killed. The bodies of these nine people have not yet been cremated as a mark of protest.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC), which is against the alleged ‘anti-tribal Bills’ having adopted a decision to give the nine ‘tribal martyrs’ a respectful last rite within November following the Centre’s written assurance on the three Bills, called a closed door meeting of the tribe leaders along with the JAC leaders earlier this month. They fixed the funeral service for November 30. In the current scenario the decision has been reversed by the JAC.

The members expressed their exasperation against the nonchalant attitude of the Manipur Government and declared that the latter will pay a heavy price for its actions and inactions. .