Violence in Manipur

Violence in Manipur

News: Recently, The Supreme Court directed the State of Manipur to file a fresh status report on all the security, relief and rehabilitation efforts made for the people affected by the violence between Meitei and Kuki communities.

 Manipur has been facing unrest and violent protests, recently witnessing the first direct clashes between the Kuki-Zomi tribals and the Meiteis in over 30 years.
 With a complex cultural geography divided into ‘valley’ and ‘hill’ districts, the state has experienced longstanding ethnic tensions.
 The valley, which comprises about 10% of Manipur’s landmass, is dominated by the non-tribal Meitei who account for more than 64% of the population of the State.
 The hills comprising 90% of the geographical area are inhabited by more than 35% recognised tribes.
 While a majority of the Meiteis are Hindus followed by Muslims, the 33 recognised tribes, broadly classifiedinto ‘Any  Naga tribes’ and ‘Any Kuki tribes’ are largely Christians

What are reasons behind clashes in Manipur?
There are several factors both external and internal. They are as follows:
 Meiteis demand for Scheduled tribe status which was central reason behind violence as tribal groups within the state feared for their existence.
 The competition for land and resources has intensified issues. Meiteis who are numerically stronger account for just 10% of land areas.
 Historical issues and both sets of communities (hill tribe and valley people) vie for greater representation and control in local politics.
 Economic underdevelopment in the region has exacerbated inter-ethnic tensions, as communities compete for scarce resources and opportunities.
 In 2020, as the Centre began the first delimitation process in the state since 1973, the Meitei community alleged that the Census figures used in the exercise did not accurately reflect the population break-up. Tribal groups (Kuki and Nagas) on the other hand said they had grown to 40% of the state’s population and were underrepresented in the Assembly.
 The military coup in Myanmar in 2021 and subsequent unrest have led to a continuous influx of Burmese refugees into Manipur. Many of the refugees share kinship ties with Manipur’s Kuki tribe.
 Manipur is located closely to the Golden Triangle and porous international borders make the state vulnerable to drug trafficking and other cross-border criminal activities. These illegal activities can fuel violence and social unrest in the region.

What are the potential consequences of recent unrest?
Potential Consequences
o Fewer investments in the state - Impact on economic development
o Rise in smuggling of drugs, illegal arms trading
o Impact on India's Act East policy
o Internal displacement , influx of refugees due to porous borders
o Strained relations with Myanmar, Bangladesh
o Ethnic, social and religious division will weaken Harmony in the state
o Rise in Militancy

What should be the way forward?
 Improve governance by addressing corruption, and inefficiency, and strengthening local administration.
 Evaluate on the outcomes of AFSPA in the state and try alternative measures to protect human rights and win trust of the people.
 Engage with local people, local leaders and ethnic groups to find a common solution.
 Improve engagements with neighbouring countries especially Myanmar to manage cross-border problems such as smuggling, infiltration and refugee crisis.
Source – Indian Express, The Hindu 

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