Manipur is burning! Reason behind violent clashes!!

Manipur, the northeastern state of India, is currently under the leadership of Chief Minister Biren Singh of the BJP party. Meanwhile, a rally was held in Churachandpur district on behalf of the All Tribes Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM) to protest against the provision of Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to non-tribals Meeitei or Meitei community, while 34 recognized tribal communities are living there.

Thousands of people participated in this rally. This led to violence between tribals and non-tribals in the Torbung area, with around 40% of the state’s population – said to have participated in the processions. The violence was brought under control by firing tear gas shells and the rioters were asked by the police to return to their homes.

Also in view of the situation, curfew was imposed in Imphal West, Kaksing, Thoubal, Jiribam and Bishnupur districts, which are not heavily populated by tribals, and Churachandpur, Khangabok and Tengnoupal districts which are heavily populated by tribals. Following this, mobile internet services were suspended across the state for five days. However, broadband services were operational.

Meanwhile, in many parts of Manipur, houses were set on fire and street shops, two-wheelers and cars were also set on fire by mysterious people. Due to this, there is currently a tense situation. Mary Kom, Boxing Champion took to Twitter on 4, May 2023 to seek help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh by tagging them and a couple of media channels. The images from the violent clash are tweeted by her with the caption “My state Manipur is burning, kindly help”.

While the army has been deployed in the riot area, Manipur Governor Anusuiya Uikey’s orders to shoot the rebels on sight if they cause clashes among the people.

Main causes of riots:

It is to be noted that the riots took place on April 27, 2023, even before yesterday’s violent clashes in Manipur.

1. Government’s Land Surveying Activity:

On April 27, 2023, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), a recognized tribal association in the Churachandpur district of Manipur, issued a press release. On April 28, the ITLF called for a total shutdown from 8 AM to 4 PM on the occasion of Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s visit to inaugurate an open gym at the PT Sports Complex in Churachandpur district’s New Lamka.

The Manipur government’s land surveying activities are against the tribal people in the region, they are being forcibly evicted and churches are demolished on the grounds of encroachment, tribal associations have said.

And in response to the government’s failure to address the grievances and fears of tribal people in the region, various organizations including All Lamka United Youths, Zou Sangnaupang Pawlpi and Kuki Students Organization in Churachandpur district have agreed to a total shutdown. Accordingly, the organization has asked the public to refrain from participating in the next day’s government program as well.

However, before the complete shutdown, the stage where Chief Minister N Biren Singh was supposed to visit was set on fire by mysterious persons. Following this, prohibition order 144 was imposed there. Agitated by the incident, the rioters have now set fire to houses, two-wheelers and cars in some parts of Manipur.

2. Meitei community’s reservation:

All the tribal peoples recognized under the Constitution of India are considered Scheduled Tribes. In this case, the Meetei or Meitei people living in the Central Valley claimed that “We, who were a tribal community in India before 1949, lost this identity only after the ‘Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950’ was drafted.” They have been fighting for many years, insisting on the demands for incorporation.

The students unions belonging to the existing 36 ST communities of the state, who strongly opposed the Meeitei community’s demand, raised their voices saying that giving them ST status is like defeating the privileges given to the tribal communities through reservation and it is a violation of the rights of the Constitution of India.

In this case, the Manipur High Court stated that the state government has kept the demands of the Meitei people for the last 10 years, and on April 20, 2023, it requested the state government to include them in the Scheduled Tribes and grant them the appropriate status. It is noteworthy that since then there has been a great agitation among the tribal people.

The central valley region covers about 10% of the geographical area of Manipur. This central valley region is home to the Meitei community, which constitutes 64.6% of the state’s population. The remaining 90% of the geographical area consists of hills surrounding the valley. They are home to all the recognized tribes of the state (about 35.4% of the population).

The causes of the Manipur riots include the contestation of the state’s majority (64.6%) Meitei community with the Recognized Tribes, who have thus enjoyed reservation for the Scheduled Tribes for years, government land surveying etc.,

While the issue of tribals in India today remains one of the issues associated with Indian politics, it is in the end, the state government’s priority to prevent riots from occurring in the future.

This article is originally published in Tamil by Youturn.


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