The All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) organized a solidarity march against a recent Manipur High Court order that asked the Manipur State government to make a recommendation to the Centre regarding the demand to include the Meitei community on the Scheduled Tribes (STs) list on May 3, sparking the start of the violence.
The Centre referred to Article 355 of the Constitution, which is a part of emergency provisions, on May 4, as the violence increased. It gives the Centre the authority to take the necessary actions to defend a State from external assault or internal unrest. Convoys of trucks carrying soldiers, Assam Rifles, members of the Rapid Action Force, and local police officers have recently invaded various impacted regions in the State.
TO SEE VIEDO Manipur violence
In addition to others, over 9,000 members of the Kuki and Meitei communities have reportedly been forced to leave their homes as a result of the reported deaths of over a dozen individuals and hundreds of injuries. According to defence sources, 9,000 people were taken in after being evacuated from violent areas. Vehicles, as well as residences and other property, have all been destroyed. The number of fatalities has not yet been officially confirmed. the third day of unrest and violence has left authorities struggling
Despite the Army’s flag marches, the situation was under control. Broadband and mobile data services are still being interrupted. Approximately 5,000 individuals have so far been relocated to safe residences or shelters in Churachandpur, 2,000 in Imphal Valley, and 2,000 in the border town of Moreh in Tengnoupal district. During the May 3 march, an armed mob allegedly attacked members of the Meitei community in the Churachandpur district’s Torbung area. Attacks in retaliation followed in the Valley districts. Over three hours of rioting in Torbung resulted in the destruction of numerous stores and homes.
Steps to uphold peace and order
The Chief Minister N. Biren Singh’s call for restraint has been ineffective. Singh said that the government was taking all necessary steps to uphold peace and order, including requisitioning additional paramilitary personnel, and that the violence was the consequence of a miscommunication. Forces at the federal and state levels have been ordered to retaliate harshly against anyone or any group found to be using violence. Imphal West, Kakching, Thoubal, Jiribam, and Bishnupur districts, which are predominately Meitei, as well as Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal districts, which are predominately Kuki, have all imposed an indefinite curfew. According to recent reports, 500 members of the Kuki community have taken refuge in the CRPF camp in Lamphelpat, Imphal.
Over 20 homes have been burned down in the Motbung neighbourhood in the Kangpokpi district, where the Kuki people has a significant presence. More than 1,000 members of the Meitei community have left the Churachandpur area, which is predominately Kuki.
There have also been reports of violent confrontations near the border town of Moreh in the Tengnoupal area, where numerous Meitei homes were burned down. Violence has also been reported in other locations in Imphal, the nation’s capital.
Actual reasons for conflict
The demand for the Meitei group, which makes up 53% of Manipur’s population and predominantly lives in the Manipur Valley, to be included to the ST list appears to have been the direct cause of the ethnic conflict.
But that is merely a contributing factor. There are further causes for the long-simmering underlying rage. These are connected to the Kukis’ perception of persecution as well as the government’s crackdown on reserved and protected forests in the State’s hill regions. Many Chin, members of the same ethnic group from Myanmar across the border, have entered India to escape violence and persecution, and the Kukis, who are related to them, are upset with the government’s severe attitude against these so-called illegal immigrants.
Briefing the media, Young Mizo Association (YMA) assistant general secretary Malsawmliana said human rights were violated in Manipur during the nearly three months of the ethnic violence, something that’s never witnessed in India.
Banners and placards at the marches read: “The sufferings of tribals in Manipur is our sufferings,” “Mizoram stands with Kuki-Zo tribals in Mizoram,” “Let us not go back to barbaric era”, “Women bodies are not battlefield”, “Death penalty for Manipur rapists”, “Stop killing Christians in Manipur”
Singers presented solidarity songs while volunteers collected donations for the victims. The tricolour as well as flags of various organisations dotted the rallies.
The Coordination Committee’s chairman R Lalngheta also urged the Centre to end the violence.
In a statement issued after the march, the Coordination Committee said, “The disrespect shown to our fellow humans has blackened the face of Indian democracy.”
The offices of the ruling Mizo National Front, opposition BJP, Congress and Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) were also closed in support of the solidarity rallies.
“So far, 359 churches and quarters have been destroyed, 197 villages burnt, 7,247 homes damaged by fire and 41,425 people have been forced to leave Manipur. Many students studying in Manipur cannot continue their studies due to this ethnic conflict. This may have far reaching effects on the lives of the students and even the country as a whole,” the statement said.
The BJP Chief Minister’s firm position against what he claims is tribal tribes’ encroachment on protected and reserved forest areas in the Manipuri hills is motivated by a number of factors, including the fact that a sizable portion of the hills are being exploited for poppy production. The government views its crackdown on forest regions as a part of a larger fight on narcotics, but it is also guilty of referring to all Kuki people as “drug lords” in general. Second, Manipur’s land is under significant pressure. The tribal settlements’ inhabitants tend to grow and extend out into the neighbouring forest areas, which they believe to be their historical and ancestral right. The government disputes this. The Meitei, who reside in the valleys, are also incensed because indigenous people are permitted to own land in the valleys while they are not permitted to dwell or purchase property there.
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