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India’s Manipur Crisis Intensifies Over Land and Power Disputes

After the outbreak of violence, India’s North Eastern state Manipur is currently facing a situation of turmoil, with unrest and instability spreading throughout the region, causing considerable destruction and distress.

The incidents have led to widespread protests, exacerbating the tensions and further exacerbating the overall socio-political climate in the state. The long-standing rivalry between the Meitis and the Kukis, two communities in  Manipur, has reached a critical point due to their ongoing dispute over land and power.  The core issue at the heart of the problem is the demand by the Meitis for their tribal status.

The loss of life and property of both Kuki and Meiti has taken a terrible toll. About 150 people have been killed, and thousands have left home since the violence. The troubled state most recently experienced escalating tension when a video emerged on May 4 depicting a distressing incident where a group of men from one community paraded two women naked. The occurrence of this incident has sent shockwaves throughout India. On the other hand, the deep-seated animosity between tribal Kukis and the dominant Meiti community in Manipur is getting bitter by the day. 

The Kukis have levelled allegations against their rival for the disorder and instability in Manipur.  They claim that Meitei destroyed Kuki villages and attacked the Kuki community. In Manipur, the Meitei community has a significant presence even in the Legislative Assembly. They constitute more than 50 per cent of the state’s total population. They also have a significant presence in the Legislative Assembly. Kukis constitute about 25 per cent of the total population of Manipur.

According to Meiti’s claim, before India gained independence, they were recognized as a tribe. This is worth mentioning that Manipur joined the Indian Union in 1949. However, following the inclusion of Manipur in the Indian Union, Meitis lost that status. In such a situation, if they are given full tribal status, it will set back Kuki-Naga and other tribes regarding education and employment opportunities.

Recently the European Parliament passed a resolution on the crisis in Manipur. The EU resolution said it “strongly condemns the violence,  loss of life and destruction of property in Manipur” and “condemns in the strongest possible terms the nationalist rhetoric employed by leading members of the BJP  party”. The EU has called for repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and addressed their concern about the internet shutdown. A highly active lobby of India haters in the EU is most likely behind the resolution, making it an orchestrated effort on their part. The EU has hardly done anything credible to mitigate the recent crisis in France.  The EU has no locus standi on Manipur. The crisis is completely India’s internal problem.

Over the past few years, India has made significant strides in fostering improved regional engagement, enhancing infrastructure, and generating optimism regarding economic growth in Manipur and North East. But the Manipur crisis represents a significant and severe wound that requires immediate attention and resolution. 

Armed groups are roaming in the street. The situation has the potential to give rise to grave security threats, posing significant risks to the safety and stability of India. The escalating tensions and violence might have far-reaching consequences if not addressed promptly and effectively.   Following the outbreak of violence on May 4, several churches belonging to the tribals in Imphal Valley have been destroyed, while temples of the Meiteis in the hills have been set ablaze. In the strife-torn northeastern state, restoration of peace is essential at any cost. Both the governments- at the state and central levels should immediately deliver a solution to mitigate the crisis. 

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