Inter-ethnic riots that occurred in the Manipur region, India, continue to roll. In fact, the bloody conflict is said to have dragged Hindustan into civil war. A retired officer in the Indian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General L. Nishikanta Singh lamented the turbulent conditions in his hometown of Manipur, which is located in the Northeast of the country.
“The country is now ‘stateless’. Life and property can be destroyed at any time by anyone like in Libya, Lebanon, Nigeria, Syria and others,” he explained as quoted by BBC News, Thursday (22/6/2023).
Nearly two months after being engulfed in ethnic violence, Manipur is teetering on what is believed to be the brink of civil war. Clashes between the majority Meitei and Kuki tribes have left more than 100 people dead and more than 400 injured. Nearly 60,000 people have been displaced and are sheltering in some 350 camps.
Some 40,000 security forces made up of soldiers, paramilitaries and police are struggling to quell the violence. Only a quarter of the more than 4,000 guns looted from police arsenals have been returned voluntarily since the violence began.
The level of distrust between the warring communities has increased, with both accusing the security forces of being partisans. More than 200 churches and 17 temples have been destroyed or damaged by mobs. The homes of local ministers and legislators have been attacked and burned.
Normal life has also been suffocated. Curfews continue in most of the 16 districts, schools are closed and internet services have been suspended. The main highway for transporting supplies has been blocked by protesters.
“This is the darkest moment in the history of Manipur,” said Binalakshmi Nepram of the Northeast India Women’s Initiative for Peace.
“Within the two days (when the violence started), houses were burned and people were hanged, burned and tortured. Manipur has never seen this type and type of violence in its modern history.”
India’s restive and remote Northeast region is home to around 45 million people belonging to more than 400 communities. Some 17 rounds of peace talks trying to mediate between groups across the region have dragged on for years.
In May, large-scale violence was sparked by a controversy over the affirmative action of the Kuki Tribe protesting requests to seek tribal status for the Meitei Tribe. The reason is, the Kuki tribe is worried that the ethnic status set by the government could trigger conflicts with Meitei.
Historically, there have been disputes over two hills in the state, with conflicting ownership claims from Meitei and Kuki. The Meitei people consider the hill sacred, while the Kuki people consider the land beneath the hill to be their ancestral territory facing encroachment.
“Over the past five years there has been growing animosity and anger between the two communities, some related to traditional beliefs and practices and others related to encroachment,” said Bhagat Oinam of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for maintaining a learned silence over the violence. The majority of ministers and legislators from the ruling BJP Party have gathered in Delhi to work out a strategy to resolve and manage the situation.
“Meitei and Kuki are now completely separate, in every aspect. Until we have something to manage on our own, there will be no solution,” said Hoinu of the Kuki Human Rights Organization.
Source : CNBC