Tragic Turn in Manipur: Last Rites Conducted for Abducted Men Missing Since May 6

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In a somber development in Manipur, the presumed demise of former journalist Atom Samarendra, 47, and social worker Yumkhaibam Kirankumar Singh, 47, has led to the performance of traditional Meitei last rites. Both individuals were among the 32 listed as missing in the state’s ongoing violence, and in the absence of their bodies, their families conducted symbolic rituals using Pangong tree bark.

Symbolic Farewell in Absence of Bodies

Residents of Khumbong in Imphal West district, Atom Samarendra and Yumkhaibam Kirankumar Singh were abducted near Sangaithel Olympian Park on May 6, 2023. Despite extensive search operations, their whereabouts remained unknown. The families decided to assume their deaths and conducted the last rites on Friday, adhering to Meitei customary practices.

In the absence of the physical remains, the families utilized the bark/wood of the Pangong tree as a symbolic representation of the deceased. Traditional Meitei last rites were performed, involving clothing the bark, conducting rituals, and finally, consigning it to flames. This poignant ceremony pays homage to the memory of the two men who met an unfortunate fate during the ongoing unrest.

Official Records Reflecting Widespread Impact

According to government records, a total of 32 individuals are reported missing amidst the ongoing violence in Manipur. The violence, which commenced on May 3, 2023, has not only resulted in the tragic disappearance of individuals but has also caused significant destruction, including 4,786 houses and 386 religious structures.

Reflecting on Loss and Seeking Closure

The last rites for Atom Samarendra and Yumkhaibam Kirankumar Singh serve as a poignant reminder of the human cost of the ongoing violence in Manipur. The families, unable to locate the missing men, have chosen to find closure through traditional rituals, offering a glimpse into the profound impact of the unrest on local communities.

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