As the Manipur violence has been raging since May, there is no control over the situation, and the violence is still continuing. Recently, a video on social media went viral in which two women were parading naked before a large mob of men in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district. Manipur Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) released a statement against the molestation.
A zero FIR was registered by a relative of the victim woman. The FIR stated that a 900–1000-person mob raided the B-Phainom village, in which five villagers, two men and three women, escaped to a nearby forest. When the police rescued them, five of them were snatched by the mob, and one of them was killed on the spot, a 56-year-old man. One of the women was brutally gangraped. The brother of the victim and one other man who tried to protect their sister were also killed. The women who were gang raped and paraded naked by the mob belonged to the KUKI community of Manipur, which was also part of the ongoing Manipur protest.
The KUKI community
The Kuki community is an ethnic group in the northeastern Indian states of Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram, as well as the neighboring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Kuki people are believed to have migrated from the Mizo Hills (formerly Lushai) in the south-eastern part of Mizoram, India. The Kuki people are divided into over 50 tribes, each with its own language and culture. The largest Kuki tribes are the Hmar, Paite, Gangte, Chothe, Anal, and Thadou. The Kuki people are predominantly Christian, with a small minority who practice animism or other religions. They are known for their vibrant culture, which includes traditional music, dance, and festivals.
The Kuki people have a long history of conflict with the Meitei people, the dominant ethnic group in Manipur. The conflict has its roots in the 19th century, when the Kuki people migrated to Manipur from neighbouring areas. The Meitei people saw the Kuki people as invaders and a threat to their culture. The conflict between the Kuki and Meitei people has led to violence and displacement. In 1993, a major outbreak of violence between the two groups killed over 100 people and displaced thousands more.
Kuki vs. Meitei Community
There are certain issues on which these communities have a history:
Land and resources
The Kukis and Meiteis have competing claims to land and resources in Manipur. The Kukis argue that they have been in the state for centuries and have traditional rights to the land. The Meiteis argue that they are the rightful owners of the land and that the Kukis are recent immigrants.
The Kukis are predominantly Christian, while the Meiteis are predominantly Hindu. This religious difference has led to tensions between the two communities, as each group has tried to impose its own religious beliefs on the other.
The Kukis feel that they are underrepresented in the Manipur government. They argue that the Meiteis have a disproportionate amount of power in the government and that this has led to discrimination against the Kukis.
The Kukis are generally poorer than the Meiteis. This has led to resentment among the Kukis, who feel that they are not getting their fair share of the benefits of development.
The Kukis have often been discriminated against by the Meiteis. This has included being denied access to education and jobs, as well as being subjected to verbal and physical abuse.
The conflict has been exploited by political leaders for their own gain. This has made it more difficult to resolve the conflict and has led to further violence.
Manipur Violence 2023
The 2023 Manipur violence is an ethnic conflict that has been ongoing since May 3, 2023, between the Meitei people, a majority that lives in the Imphal Valley, and the tribal community from the surrounding hills, including the Kuki people. As of July 19, 2023, the violence had claimed the lives of over 142 people and displaced more than 54,000.
The violence is rooted in a long-standing dispute over land and resources, as well as the Meitei people’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status under the Indian Constitution. Scheduled Tribe status would give the Meitei people privileges comparable to those of tribal communities, such as access to government jobs and educational institutions.
The violence has been exacerbated by the government’s crackdown on the Kuki community, which has been accused of drug trafficking and other crimes. The government’s actions have been seen by many Kukis as discriminatory and as a justification for the violence against them.
The violence has had a devastating impact on the people of Manipur. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes, and many have been injured or killed. The violence has also damaged the economy and social fabric of the state.
The government has taken some steps to try to end the violence, including deploying additional security forces and imposing a curfew in some areas. However, the violence has continued, and there is no clear end in sight.
The Final Note
The 2023 Manipur violence is a reminder of the deep-seated tensions that exist between the Meitei and Kuki communities. It is also a reminder of the challenges that the Indian government faces in trying to maintain peace and security in the northeast.