Neelam Rahim | email@example.com
12 August 2023 | 21:25 CAT
Manipur is a state in northeast India with a population of around three million. It has been embroiled in an ethnic conflict since early May, fought between the majority Meitei community and the minority Kuki tribe.
India’s north-eastern states have a history of ethnic rivalries dating back to before the country became independent in 1947. In Manipur, violence has erupted between the Meitei and the Kuki communities several times before.
At least 120 people have been killed in armed clashes in Manipur since May. Soldiers were rushed in from other parts of the country to contain the violence; months later, a curfew and internet shutdown remain in force across most of the state.
Thousands of guns were stolen when the unrest began, and militia groups on both sides of the state’s ethnic divide are hunkering for a protracted fight.
Meanwhile, this week Prime Minister Narendra Modi, faces a no-confidence motion in parliament over the violence, with the opposition accusing him of inaction.
Having spent four days in Manipur to understand the state’s struggle, the Editor of the Hardnews magazine, Sanjay Kapoor, unfolds his findings with Radio Islam International. He said there are many different layers to the battle.
“Amongst the religious fight of Christian versus the Hindus there is also the ethnic tribal rivalry and the fight over land. The tragedy is it’s been almost 100 days with the state divided and no solution,” says Kapoor.
The Meitei majority and the Kuki, one of several tribal groups in the state, comprise about 16 percent of its population.
The Meitei are predominantly Hindu and primarily live in urban centres, while the mainly Christian Kuki usually live in scattered settlements in the state’s hills.
Longstanding tensions between the two communities have revolved around competition for land and public jobs, with rights activists accusing local leaders of exacerbating ethnic divisions for political gain.
Things came to a head in May over plans to recognise the Meitei as a “Scheduled Tribe” — a status already conferred upon the Kuki.
This would grant them a form of affirmative action through guaranteed quotas of government jobs and college admissions.
Kuki groups staged protests over fears the plans could reduce their entitlements, with rallies quickly spiralling into violence.
Listen to the full interview on Your World Today with Moulana Junaid Kharsany.