Kuki groups, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and the Joint Philanthropic Organisation, on Wednesday rejected allegations that they forced members of the tribal community to refuse accepting the bodies of their dead relatives as well as government compensation for the deaths, reported the Hindustan Times.

The charges were levelled by a Supreme Court-appointed committee, headed by retired Justice Gita Mittal.

The panel had told the court last week that of the 175 deaths in Manipur as a result of the ethnic violence that broke out on May 3 between the Meitei and Kuki-Zomi communities, the bodies of 81 victims have been accepted while 88 are identified but not yet claimed.

Accoridng to the Hindustan Times, the toll has now reached 182 lives as of Thursday of which 94 bodies have not been claimed and six are unidentified. The state government and the Centre have assured Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the families of the victims.

The committee had also alleged that tribal groups were insistent on burying their dead near the borders of Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts to stoke tensions. This act would “serve as a source of constant mounting tensions” and “prevent restoration of normalcy”, the committee remarked.

Refuting the allegations, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and the Joint Philanthropic Organisation said on Wednesday that any tribal can walk up to the government and take compensation.

“The tribal organisations have never hampered nor will ever hinder tribals from accepting compensation,” they said in a letter addressed to the Supreme Court-appointed committee.

However, it would be an insult to victims for families to accept money “from the very state that engineered the ethnic cleansing”, the letter added, accusing state government officials of misleading the committee.

The Hindu reported the tribal groups as saying that they have agreed to shift their burial site from the disputed location between Bishnupur and Churachandpur. Despite being promised nine alternative burial grounds by the state government, the tribal groups said that they had not received any information as to where the other sites would be.

Also read: From ‘self-rule’ call to setting the narrative, how ITLF has become new Kuki-Zo voice in Manipur