On May 3rd, violence erupted in Manipur, a northeastern state in India, after a Tribal Solidarity March organized by Naga and Kuki tribals. The march was held to protest moves to grant scheduled tribe status to the majority Metei community. The violence left dozens of people dead and injured, with property damage as well. The situation has now been brought under control with the deployment of army and paramilitary troops, and as many as 9,000 people have been rescued.
Following the violence, internet services, including mobile internet, were suspended across the state, and Section 144 was imposed in several violence-hit areas. The Indian Air Force used C17 Globemaster and AN 32 aircraft for sorties to violence-hit Manipur from Assam airfields. The Chief Minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh, urged people to maintain peace, saying, “Precious lives have been lost, besides damage to properties, which is very unfortunate”, without giving any details of the number of dead or injured. However, multiple sources have reported that more than a score of people have been killed, and several scores more injured. The police have yet to confirm these reports.
The conflict between communities in Manipur has been ongoing for several years, with tensions flaring up periodically. The Metei community, which makes up the majority of the population in the state, has been seeking scheduled tribe status, which would grant them various benefits, including affirmative action policies, employment opportunities, and reservations in educational institutions. However, the move has been opposed by the Naga and Kuki tribes, who fear losing their own scheduled tribe status.
The violence in Manipur highlights the complex socio-political issues that exist in India’s northeastern states, where various ethnic groups and tribes coexist. The region has seen a history of insurgency, separatist movements, and ethnic conflicts, leading to frequent incidents of violence. While the situation in Manipur has now been brought under control, the underlying issues that led to the violence remain unresolved, and more needs to be done to address the concerns of all communities in the state.