Ethnic Violence Rocks India’s Manipur State
Your first question might be where is Manipur? It is a state in northeastern India largely isolated from the major part of the country. There are several diverse ethnic groups living there. Manipur has been in the news lately because of the violence that has occurred. Hundreds have been killed in clashes with the police. The two ethnic groups, the Meiteis and the Kukis, have been involved in an endless cycle of violence. “The government’s persistent dismissal of Kuki grievances, coupled with its longstanding efforts to label them as outsiders, has led to the crisis.” There is a huge imbalance of social and political power between the Mietei and Kuki. The Mietei enjoy greater influence and decision making.
This latest cause for violence started out peacefully enough with the Kuki civil society organizing a peaceful rally to protest the government’s policy of arbitrarily evicting Kuki villages under the disguise of expanding reserved forests. One rally turned violent when the local police used force on the protestors, injuring 20. There was no government effort to deescalate the violence, but some believe that it was a deliberate move designed to discredit the protests. The Singh led government told the people of Manipur that the Kuki protests were directly linked to militant groups.
Yes, there are Christian communities in Manipur. Mob violence has claimed hundreds of lives and multiple thousands of people have been displaced or have fled. Lun Tombing hid in the bushes with her husband and children when they saw a mob burn down their home, car, and church. With every burning vehicle the mob clapped their hands and shouted. Tombing says, “Even after we reached Delhi, whenever my daughters heard a bang or sudden noise, they would start to scream, ‘Mummy, they are coming’”