The small Indian state of Manipur has been engulfed in ethnic conflict as the two largest groups, the majority Meitei and the minority Kuki, fight for control of territory and influence. This week, shocking video of an attack in May in which two Kuki women were paraded naked by Meitei men immediately after their village was destroyed was made public. This was the latest instance of violence against women in the area.
Who lives in Manipur and where is it located?
East of Bangladesh, the hilly state of north-eastern India borders Myanmar. An estimated 3.3 million individuals live there. The majority-minority tribes, the Kukis and Nagas, make up about 43% of the population, while more than half are Meiteis.
What is going on in Manipur?
Since the start of the violence in May, at least 130 people have died and 400 have been injured. As the army, paramilitary forces, and police work to put an end to the bloodshed. More than 60,000 people have been driven from their homes. Numerous churches, more than a dozen temples, police armories, and villages have all been devastated.
Where did it begin?
Tensions erupted when Kukis started protesting Meitei’s claims for official tribal recognition. Which they claimed would increase their already substantial influence on the government and society. They demande to allow them to purchase land or settle in Kuki-dominated areas. However, there are numerous underlying causes. They claim that the Meitei-led government’s campaign against drugs is a ruse to evict their communities.
Tensions have increased as a result of illegal immigration from Myanmar. An increasing population is putting strain on how land is used, and unemployment has drawn young people into different militias.
Who is at odds with who?
Long-running conflicts between Meitei, Kuki, and Naga groups over competing nationalist and religious interests have resulted in clashes with Indian security forces on both sides. However, the Meitei and the Kuki are the only two parties involved in the most recent conflict. According to Dhiren A Sadokpam, editor of The Frontier Manipur, “This time, the conflict is strictly rooted in ethnicity, not religion.”
Who are the Meitei and Kuki?
Manipur, Myanmar, and the surrounding areas are the Meitei’s ancestral home. Although some adhere to the Sanamahi religion, the vast majority are Hindu. The Kukis, who are primarily Christians, have spread throughout the northeast of India, and many of them in Manipur have ties to Myanmar as well. The Kukis reside in the highlands and beyond, while the Meiteis are primarily found in the Imphal valley.
Why are females attacked and degraded in Manipur?
The video, according to Geeta Pandey of the BBC in Delhi, is the most recent instance of rape and sexual assault being used as weapons of conflict, which frequently worsens into a spiral of retaliation attacks. The violence in May allegedly followed fabricated reports that Kuki militiamen had sexually assaulted a Meitei woman. The Print reports that as a result, “a new, deadly cycle of reprisal violence against Kuki tribal women allegedly by Meitei mobs” was set in motion.
What is being done by the Government?
Prior to the release of the attack’s video this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been silent about the unrest in Manipur. His statement that the tragedy had “shamed India” and that “no guilty will be spared”. “what happened with the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven”. It was followed by his promise that “no guilty will be spared.”
But many Indians are wondering why it took him so long to publicly address Manipur. To stop the most recent round of violence, the Indian government has sent 40,000 soldiers, paramilitary forces, and police to the area. It has so far rebuffed requests for direct rule from tribal chiefs. However, the violence keeps growing and expelling more villagers from their homes.
Who controls Manipur?
In addition to running the federal government of India, Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party also controls the Meitei N Biren Singh-led state government of Manipur. Despite making up 53% of the population, the Meitei also own 40 of the 60 seats in the regional parliament. The Kukis claim that regions in Mr. Singh’s recent campaign against the growing of poppies for the heroin trade were targeted. The administration of Mr. Singh charged Kuki rebel organisations with stirring up the populace.