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Unveiling the Complex Tapestry of Ethnic Violence in Manipur

The Silence Breaks

By Sameel IqbalPublished 7 months ago 9 min read
Manipur is burning

Unveiling the Complex Tapestry of Ethnic Violence in Manipur

Hello, friends!

For the past three months, Manipur has been plagued by a series of disturbing incidents of ethnic violence. In this article, we delve into the intricate web of historical, political, and social factors that have fueled this unrest. The silence of the government, politicians, and media on this issue for an extended period of time has only exacerbated the situation. As we embark on this exploration, we aim to shed light on the root causes of the conflict, the implications for the affected communities, and the steps needed to restore peace and harmony.

The Silence Breaks

It is undeniable that Manipur has been grappling with severe ethnic tensions that have escalated into violence. The suppression of news and information regarding these incidents only further intensified the matter. However, the situation took an inevitable turn when the Supreme Court issued a statement addressing the issue. The silence of even the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for a staggering 77 days was finally shattered under mounting public pressure.

During those 77 days of silence, a grim reality was unfolding behind closed doors. According to official estimates, an alarming 50,000 to 60,000 people were displaced within Manipur. This led to an unfortunate scenario where these individuals became refugees in their own homeland. Tragically, between 140 to 200 lives were lost, and over 5,000 cases of arson were reported. These shocking figures were presented by the Manipur government to the Supreme Court on July 10th.

Unraveling the Deep-seated Conflict

The heart of the matter lies in the conflict between two prominent ethnic communities in Manipur: the Meitei people and the Kuki people. It is crucial to recognize that this strife is not merely a matter of political and ethnic differences; it also encompasses geographical and economic divides.

Geographic and Political Divide

Manipur's geographical landscape can be broadly divided into the Imphal Valley and the surrounding hills. Although the valley comprises only about 11% of Manipur's total area, it is home to a significant portion of the population. The hills, covering approximately 89% of the land, are populated by a variety of tribal communities. This division also reflects in Manipur's legislative assembly, with the valley having a larger number of seats compared to the hills.

Socioeconomic Imbalances

Adding to the complexity, Manipur also suffers from pronounced economic disparities between the valley and the hills. The valley areas tend to be more economically developed, while the hill districts experience higher levels of poverty. These disparities have fueled resentment and feelings of neglect among the hill communities.

Ethnic and Religious Dynamics

Ethnic and religious diversity further compounds the situation. In the valley districts, mainly inhabited by the Meitei people, Hinduism prevails, with a portion following their indigenous Sanamahism religion. Conversely, the hills are home to tribal communities, primarily Christians. The conflict, however, is not a direct result of religious differences but rather a culmination of historical, economic, and social factors.

Historical Tensions

The historical context plays a significant role in the tension between Meiteis and Kukis. Manipur's history is replete with power struggles and territorial disputes between the dominant Meitei kingdom and the hill tribes. This history of contention has contributed to the deep-rooted animosity between these two communities.

Political Marginalization

The political dynamics in Manipur have also played a role in exacerbating the divide. The disproportionate distribution of legislative seats between the valley and the hills has led to a sense of political marginalization among the hill communities. This perception has fueled demands for greater autonomy and representation.

The Struggle for Autonomy

Against this backdrop of historical grievances and socioeconomic disparities, the demand for autonomy and self-governance has gained momentum. Both the Kuki and Naga communities have sought greater representation and control over their local affairs. This struggle for autonomy has manifested in calls for separate states and greater autonomy under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

The Sixth Schedule Debate

The Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution grants autonomous administrative units and self-governance to tribal areas. This constitutional provision aims to protect the cultural and traditional rights of these communities. While this system has been successfully implemented in certain North-Eastern states, Manipur's hill communities continue to demand its extension to their region.

The Inner Line Permit Controversy

Another critical aspect of the conflict is the Inner Line Permit system. This system restricts the entry of non-Manipuris into the state, intended to safeguard the culture and resources of the indigenous population. However, it has also sparked debates about exclusion and economic barriers, especially for those who rely on cross-border trade and migration for their livelihoods.

The Path Forward

Addressing the ethnic violence in Manipur requires a multi-pronged approach that acknowledges historical grievances, socioeconomic disparities, and the aspirations of the various communities. It is imperative to foster dialogue and understanding between Meiteis and Kukis, while also respecting the unique cultural identities of both groups.

Strengthening Autonomy

One potential solution could involve revisiting and strengthening the autonomy granted under the Sixth Schedule. This approach could provide the hill communities with greater control over their affairs and resourcesHello, friends! For the last 3 months, we have been witnessing a lot of ethnic violence in Manipur. For a long time, our government, politicians, and the biased media were silent on this issue. They tried to ignore this issue. But when the matter went completely out of control, it became impossible to keep this news suppressed.

When the Supreme Court issued a statement on this issue, they had to break the silence. Our Prime Minister Modi kept silent on this issue for 77 days. Those 77 days, in which according to official estimates, 50,000 to 60,000 people were displaced in Manipur. They became refugees in their own country. Between 140 to 200 people were killed. More than 5,000 incidents of arson were reported. These figures were provided by the Manipur government to the Supreme Court on 10th July.

Then a heart-wrenching article became viral, in which a brutal crime was being committed against women, only after that did PM Modi give a statement on Manipur. "Whether it is the incident from Rajasthan, or from Chhattisgarh or Manipur." Even now when people in the government talk about Manipur, they do it as a 'what-aboutism'. They say, why are you talking about Manipur? Instead, they want you to talk about the crimes against women in West Bengal and Rajasthan. What are these politicians trying to hide in Manipur? What is the reason for the ethnic violence in Manipur and why the police are not able to control it? What is the larger agenda behind the violence in Manipur? This story is so deep and so shocking that I had to split it into two article..This article is Part 1 of this series. Come, let's start."

This is a BJP which does not even look for the accused when women are paraded naked. 77 days later.. "What can I say about this? The situation is very bad right now." "Should we assume that they have started considering themselves supreme against every question and every criticism? They will talk from the heart but not about Manipur." "Crocodile tears: pretending to be sad." The violence in Manipur is mainly happening between two ethnic communities. The community of Meitei people and the community of Kuki people. A source who maintains law and order in Manipur told India Today Media House that around 2,000 houses of Meitei people were set on fire or vandalized and 1,425 houses of Kuki people were set on fire or vandalized.

Apart from this, 17 temples and 221 churches were either set on fire or vandalized at different locations. This report was published on 2nd June, 2023. To understand the violence in Manipur, we have to understand the differences between these two communities. It is not only political and ethnic, but also geographical and economical. If we talk about the geography, if you look at the map of Manipur, then this map can be easily divided into two parts. First is the Imphal Valley and second is the hills nearby. The districts in the valley form around 11% of Manipur's area and the districts in the hills form 89% of Manipur's area. Politically speaking, Manipur's legislative assembly has 60 seats. But the 89% area in the hills, has only 20 seats in the Manipur assembly and the 11% area in the valley has 40 seats in the assembly. And the reason behind this is the population. The valley areas are more populated. According to the census of 2011, 57% of Manipur's population resides in the valley areas and 43% in the hilly areas. But still, the ratio of the population and the distribution of seats is vastly different. The population ratio is 57:43, 1.33 times that of the other. But the ratio of Assembly seats is 40:20, almost double. Many people criticize the disproportionate distribution of seats. Apart from this, there is an economic gap between the hill and valley areas. The districts in the hills are poorer and the districts in the valley are comparatively richer. This issue has been a topic of discussion for decades. From 2002 to 2017, Congress government was ruling Manipur. Look at this article from 2017, where Congress is accused of excluding the hilly areas from the development agenda. Then in 2017, BJP came into power in Manipur with this promise. The economic gap between the hills and valley they aimed to reduce it. BJP's new CM N. Biren Singh launched a campaign 'Go to Hills and Go to Villages'. The aim was to bring development to the hills. But despite forming the government for 5 years, there wasn't much difference. And when elections are held again in Manipur in 2022 The economic disparity between the hill and valley remained a major issue. In terms of religion and ethnicity we can see another gap here. In the valley districts, where the Meitei people live, they are mostly Hindus. 'Mostly', because there are many Meitei people who follow other religions as well. Like 16% of them follow their traditional religion, Sanamahism. According to this religion, they worship nature. And they believe in their god, Lainingthou Sanamahi. There are some Meitei Hindus as well who practice some elements ofFriends, let me know in the comment section what you think about this. What are your views on this? What do you think is going on here?" "Before you go, here is the answer to the question that was asked in the beginning of the article. Who is the smallest country in the world in terms of land area? If you are from Nepal, Maldives, Vatican City, and Bangladesh, then tell me your answer in the comment section. Vatican City is the smallest country in the world. Its land area is 44 hectares." "Like the article, comment, I keep on sharing some interesting information there. You can follow me there. I will see you next week with the second part of this . Thank you very much!"

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About the Creator

Sameel Iqbal

I am expert in article and story writing

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  • Sarah D7 months ago

    it is indeed scary what is happening

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