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Know the cause of Manipur violence

Aizwal: Northeastern state of Manipur is witnessing an  intense wave of violence and ethnic strife since May this year.  Manipur is literally translated as ‘Land of Jewels’. It  is a former Asiatic kingdom with a 3,000-year-old recorded history. It became a part of India in 1949.

The state is situated  at the border with Myanmar and is  home to 3.3 million people belonging to myriad ethnic groups and communities. More than half are Meiteis, while around 43% are Kukis and Nagas, the predominant minority tribes.

As per reports, 20,000  people have been reportedly killed in the 60-year-old conflict out of which almost 1,500 have been found to be of extra-judicial killings as per the Supreme Court.

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The Meitei have roots in Manipur, Myanmar and surrounding areas. The majority of Meitei  belong  to  Hindu although some follow Christian and Islam religions. The Kukis are  mostly Christian. Meiteis mostly live in the Imphal valley, while the Kukis live in the surrounding hills and beyond.

At least 130 people have been killed and 400 wounded in violence that began in May this year.  At present, over 100,000 troops of the Indian armed forces armed with martial law called Armed Forces Special Powers Act operate  in the state.

The tensions erupted after a court ruling in March that granted the majority Meitei ‘scheduled tribal status’. As per the court order, this community is entitled to  the same economic benefits and quotas in government jobs and education as the minority Kuki. It also allowed Meiteis to buy land in the hills, where the Kukis predominately live.

This ignited the wrath of  Kuki groups. The protest by Kuki groups were met with violence and by early May, it had escalated into all-out violence. The court ruling was later stayed by the supreme court.

According to reports, villages were burned down and more than 250 churches belonging to the Kuki community, who are Christian, were destroyed.


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