India: At Least 13 Killed as Violence Erupts in Manipur
Indian authorities on Thursday deployed the army and paramilitary forces, imposed a curfew, suspended mobile internet services, and issued "shoot-at-sight" orders, after violence erupted in the country's north-eastern state of Manipur.
- Indian authorities on Thursday deployed the army and paramilitary forces, imposed a curfew, suspended mobile internet services, and issued "shoot-at-sight" orders, after violence erupted in the country's north-eastern state of Manipur.1
- At least 13 people died as violent clashes broke out on Wednesday — during a rally organized by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur — to protest the inclusion of the state's majority non-tribal Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.2
- While the government is yet to confirm the number of lives lost, over 9K people have been evacuated from violence-hit districts and given shelter in special camps after homes and religious sites were set ablaze.3
- Attributing the violence to a "misunderstanding and communication gap," Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said that "long term grievances of different communities will be suitably addressed in due course."4
- The protests erupted after the Manipur High Court directed the state government on April 19 to submit its recommendation to include the Meitei community in the ST list to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry by May 29.5
- People belonging to the ST community reportedly oppose the Meitei community's demand for ST status, as they fear losing their rights since the Meitei constitute 53% of the population in Manipur.2
Sources: 1Al Jazeera, 2The Wire, 3Hindustan Times, 4Mint, and 5The Hindu.
- Narrative A, as provided by Scroll In. The Kukis are right to protest the inclusion of the Meities in the ST list, as the latter is already classified under Scheduled Castes (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) and have access to the opportunities associated with the special status. Giving more privileges to the Meiteis would be unfair and would rob the poor tribals of their ancestral forest land rights, tradition, culture, and livelihood.
- Narrative B, as provided by Firstpost. The Meiteis were recognized as a tribe before the merger of the princely state of Manipur with the Union of India in 1949; however, they lost their identity as a tribe afterwards. Kukis' protest is a facade, as they are illegal immigrants from neighboring Myanmar who resent the Manipur government's eviction drives to clear their settlements in reserve forest areas.
- Narrative C, as provided by The Wire. This violence — which has reopened an old ethnic faultline between the valley-based Meitei community and the hill-based Kuki community — is a complete failure of the state institutions. The Biren Singh-led BJP government remained mute spectators as rioting mobs, criticizing and instigating a High Court order, set the state alight. These events show the sad state of democracy in northeast India.