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September 28, 2023
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What is India’s Manipur Issue?

Tawqeer Hussain

Since May 3, India’s northeastern state of Manipur has witnessed ethnic clashes primarily between two local communities – the Meitei and Kuki. According to the reports, over 100 people died, and some 40,000 people have been displaced due to the current situation. Over 1,700 buildings (including homes and religious sites) have been burnt forcing an exodus of people from their homes to over 315 relief camps.

Reason of Unrest

The recent violence began after the Manipur High Court asked the state government to consider Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community, which is the majority population in Manipur. The Meitei community had long requested this status; however, the Kuki community have been objecting to such a status.
Soon after the court announcement, the All-Tribal Students Union of Manipur held a rally in protest on May 3. The violence began that same day when reports surfaced that the Anglo-Kuki War Memorial Gate had been burnt down.

Reports say this news led Kuki to burn several villages inhabited by Meitei communities in Churachanpur, which in turn prompted retaliation by the Meitei, who reportedly torched several localities belonging to the Kuki community in the Imphal Valley areas.

Who are the Meitei and Kuki?

The Meitei and the Kuki are the two ethnic communities in Manipur. The power in Manipur largely remained vested with Meitei, who account for about 53 per cent of the population, living mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals –Nagas and Kuki – comprise around 40 per cent and dominate the hill regions of the state.
The Meitei are mostly predominant in Imphal and cannot buy lands in the hill regions inhibited by Kuki and other indigenous communities, but Kuki and other tribal communities can buy lands in the valley.

Where is Manipur Situated?

Manipur, situated in northeast India, boasts Imphal as its capital city. It shares borders with the Indian states of Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, and Assam to the west. Additionally, it shares borders with two regions of Myanmar, namely Sagaing Region to the east and Chin State to the south. Encompassing an area of 22,327 square kilometers, the state is home to a population of approximately 3.2 million people. The official and predominant language spoken in Manipur is the Meitei language, officially known as Manipuri language.

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