Tribal body in Manipur opposes Covid victim's burial

Express News Service
GUWAHATI: A tribal organisation in Manipur opposed the burial of a Covid-19 victim questioning his citizenship but, eventually, the last rites were performed under the watchful eyes of the administration.

Dr Nehginpao Kipgen (42), who headed the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the OP Jindal University in Haryana, died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on May 2 and the body was brought to Manipur for burial in Kangpokpi district.

The United Naga Council (UNC) had mourned the demise but raised questions on Dr Kipgen’s citizenship, stating that he was not an indigenous citizen of Manipur.

“Has he ever acquired Indian citizenship under due procedure? This question is undoubtedly important for an unfailing consideration in a multi-ethnic society like the State of Manipur,” the UNC had said in a statement.

On being requested by the Thadou Inpi, the highest body of the Thadou tribal community, Kangpokpi District Magistrate Somorjit Salam had allowed the ambulance, carrying Dr Kipgen’s body to stop briefly and people paid homage to him. The burial took place on Wednesday at Leikot village in Saitu-Gamphazol sub-division of the district. At both places, the Covid-19 protocols were followed.

Dr Kipgen was born at Teijang village in Myanmar but grew up in Manipur. His wife is from Churachandpur in the state and relatives are from Kangpokpi, the Thadou Students’ Association said.