Manipur has been battered with ethnic violence, which began on May 3, and the situation doesn’t seem to be settling soon. The ethnic conflict left more than 120 people dead, more than 3000 have been injured, and nearly a thousand people displaced. The state has now turned into a battle zone.
What All Has Happened Yet?
Arms were being used by the militants in the state. While many of them were looted from armories, it has been reported that a few of them have been smuggled via Myanmar. The weapons were bought from a black market situated near the Myanmar-China border and transported to Manipur. During the search operation four people, including an IRB personnel were detained for smuggling arms.
The Indian Army officials who have been deployed in the state to work alongside the Assam Rifles to ensure peace and quell the violence stated that women of the state are being a hindrance in the relief process and are siding with the rioters.
Army officials stated that whenever their convoy moves toward a troubled spot, hundreds to thousands of women gather to block roads and passes. This challenge in the state has continued for days, due to which the Army was forced to let go of a dreaded terrorist who was the mastermind of the 2015 ambush of a Dogra Regiment convoy where 20 soldiers were martyred.
The Army officials, who were encircled by a 1200 to 1500 mob of women, appealed to the aggressive mob continuously, however, they refused to listen.
The challenge faced by the security personnel has come to a level that Dimapur-based 3 Corps had to appeal to the residents to cooperate in their efforts to help Manipur through a video message.
The government in Manipur led by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh stated that financial assistance will be provided to 50,648 displaced people temporarily staying in 349 relief camps. Stating that the government is assuring all possible assistance, CM Biren Singh said that temporary houses are also being constructed for those displaced.
On June 15, a furious mob set Union Minister of State Rajkumar Ranjan’s residence on fire. According to the police, the incident took place at around 11 pm when the mob overpowered the security guards and threw petrol bombs at his residence until the additional forces arrived.
They had to resort to tear gas shelling in order to disperse the mob. Fortunately, at the time of the incident, the minister was in Kerala. He called the act “inhuman”.
Earlier, peace in Manipur was rattled when suspected rebels entered the village of Khoken, and killed three people and wounded another two. Meanwhile, from two different districts, reports regarding the burning of houses were received.
Steps Taken By The Government
Home Minister Amit Shah, who went to Manipur on May 29 for a three day visit, held talks with ethnic groups and asked them to ensure peace for at least a fortnight. Shah assured them that their demands such as the imposition of the President’s rule and the creation of a separate administration for tribals would be considered. Shah stated that a probe will be ordered to look into month-long violence in the state.
Besides this, Shah mentioned that certain selected cases of violence will be taken up by the Central Bureau of Investigation without any involvement of state officers and assured of “rehabilitation for loss of life and property to be transferred via direct benefit”.
The Centre sent over 30,000 metric tonnes of relief material to Manipur, of which 20,000 metric tonnes will go to the ethnic groups.
An Rs. 10 lakh compensation to the families of those who died during the violent ethnic clashes was also announced by the central and state government. Security forces deployed in Manipur are finding it hard to quell the violence as miscreants are looting arms from armories in Imphal.
Home Minister Amit Shah gave a stern warning to the ethnic groups in Manipur by asking them to surrender arms to the police personnel and restore peace in the state. He also announced a probe panel led by a retired judge of the rank of chief justice of the High Court to look into the violence that took away more than 70 lives.
Root Cause Of The Violence
The scuffle is rooted in a deep fault line running between the valley, where Meities reside; and the hills, where Nagas and Kukis reside. Significantly, both Kukis and Nagas follow Christianity, whereas Meities follow Hinduism. The ones living in the hills perceive that Meiteis wield more economic and political power.
Notably, Meities, for a very long time, have been demanding inclusion in the ST list mentioning that the group wants to “preserve” the community and “save the ancestral land, tradition, culture and language”. In a petition to HC, they stated that they, for years, fought for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe category.
The Kuki tribe is one of the several hill tribes in India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. In Northeast India, they are present in all states except Arunachal Pradesh. The Kukis, living mainly in the hills, Churachandpur is their main stronghold, they also have a sizable population in Chandel, Kangpokpi, Tengnoupal, and Senapati districts of Manipur.
Owing to the disruption of law, order, and peace in Manipur after the tribal groups in the state took out rallies that later turned violent, the state government imposed a curfew in numerous districts and suspended mobile internet services for five days with immediate effect.
The state government has also deployed army personnel and Assam Rifles who have evacuated more than 7,500 civilians.
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