Parents of both the murdered youths, viral pictures of whose bodies caused widespread protests in Imphal valley for two days, on Thursday pleaded with authorities to locate the remains of their children so that the last rights of the boy and the girl can be conducted 'with the dignity they deserve'.
They hoped that with sleuths from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) joining the investigation into the kidnapping and death of the duo who went missing in July this year, the mystery of where their bodies lie will be solved.
The 18-year-old girl's father, Hijam Kulajit, in an interview to PTI said, "We just want to see our children one last time and conduct their last rites with the dignity they deserve. Nothing can substitute the loss. According to Meitei custom, at least a small portion of the clothes they wore is needed to perform the last rites and give them a farewell."
"Whenever I see her photo, it makes me completely restless and I can't find peace in my heart. Her mother has lost her senses and become bed-ridden while embracing a photo of our daughter," Kulajit said.
The two went missing on July 6. They were last seen on CCTV camera footage at Nambol in Bishnupur district. Their phones were tracked by police to Lamdan in Kuki-dominated Churachandpur district.
"For a day, we assumed they had eloped, but after contacting the boy's family, we sensed something missing. I don't understand why they had to be killed," Kulajit asked.
Meanwhile, the family of the 20-year-old boy continues to struggle to deal with the situation. Unable to believe that their son is no more, his mother continues to cook for him daily.
"It's been two-and-a-half months now, but I haven't washed the blanket of my son as I can still smell him," she said.
In accordance with Meitei custom, both the mothers offer incense sticks, candles and a small portion of food in front of the photographs of their children daily till the last rites are conducted.
Both the families hope that the CBI probe will help in finding the bodies of their children and reveal why they were murdered.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured him that those who had kidnapped and killed the two Manipuri youths will be arrested and punished.
A team of CBI officials, led by the agency's Special Director Ajay Bhatnagar, reached the state on Wednesday and started a probe into the crime which has rocked Imphal valley and led to two days of violent protests by students and youths on the streets of the state capital, leading to more than 60 people being injured.
Meanwhile, curfew relaxation had been cancelled in Imphal East and West districts from 4 pm on Wednesday till further orders.
More than 175 people have been killed and several hundreds injured since ethnic clashes broke out in the northeastern state on May 3, when a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.