Northeastern Indian states of Manipur has seen violence in the last few months, leading to more than 75 people dying as well as the displacement of 35,000 people. The cause of the violence is tensions between two local ethnic communities that are the Meitei as well as the Kuki. The conflict has roots that date all the way back to British colonial period, and is fuelled by rivalries for resources, land, and power in the political arena.
The violence started on May 3, when protests from the Kuki tribe became violent. The protest was in opposition to the requirements of Meitei tribe to be recognized as an “Scheduled Tribe” which would give them certain benefits and quotas on federal jobs and universities. The protests rapidly spread across other regions within the State, triggering the military to restore peace. A curfew was imposed in some areas, while the internet has also been halted.
This violence is having devastating effects for people in Manipur which has seen thousands of residents displaced from their homes and in an emergency situation. The government has promised to bring those responsible to justice, but solving the deep-rooted tensions that exist that exist between Meitei as well as the Kuki communities is a major challenge.
Manipur is one of the states located in the northeastern region of India with a long history of civil war from its inception into India during 1949. Manipur is home of various Sino-Tibetan groups with different culture, languages and faiths. The violence currently taking place in Manipur is among the most violent in recent years and highlights the difficulties facing the Indian government to bring tranquility to this region.
The violence was triggered by anger over the Meitei community’s demand to be acknowledged as an “Scheduled Tribe” that would provide them with a range of advantages. Different ethnicities, including members of the Naga as well as the Kuki tribes, worry that granting this status Meitei will mean that they would have fewer opportunities for them. The violence has resulted in destruction of property, displacement and a volatile environment within the state.
The government has sent police forces in order to bring peace, however tensions between Meitei along with other ethnic minorities are still high. There are worries about the safety of the refugees and the overall return to law and order within the state. There is a lot of uncertainty in Manipur is in flux and it’s not clear what time or when the unrest will be quelled.