The immediate provocation is the demand to grant ST status to the Meiteis, but there are other reasons behind the simmering anger.

Reports of violence, arson, and mayhem have surfaced over the past three days from a number of Manipur districts, including Churachandpur, Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur, Tengnoupal, and Kangpokpi. The Manipur government granted district judges the authority to issue shoot-at-sight orders, which was widely seen as being over the top.

The All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) organised a solidarity march against a recent Manipur High Court order that asked the Manipur State government to make a recommendation to the Centre regarding the demand to include the Meitei community on the Scheduled Tribes (STs) list on May 3, sparking the start of the violence.

The Centre referred to Article 355 of the Constitution, which is a component of emergency measures, on May 4, as the violence increased.It gives the Centre the authority to take the necessary actions to defend a State against external assault or internal unrest. Convoys of vehicles carrying soldiers, Assam Rifles, members of the Rapid Action Force, and local police officers have recently invaded various impacted regions in the State.

In addition to others, over 9,000 members of the Kuki and Meitei communities have reportedly been forced to leave their homes as a result of the alleged deaths of over a dozen individuals and hundreds of injuries. According to defence officials, 9,000 individuals were taken in after being evacuated from violent regions. structures, residences, and other property, such as automobiles,

The real causes of conflict

The desire for the Meitei group, which makes up 53% of Manipur’s population and predominantly lives in the Manipur Valley, to be included to the ST list appears to have been the direct cause of the ethnic conflict.

But that is only a contributing factor. There are further causes for the long-simmering underlying rage. These are connected to the Kukis’ perception of persecution as well as the government’s crackdown on reserved and protected forests in the State’s hill regions. As a result of the government’s severe approach against these so-called illegal immigrants, some Chin, members of the same ethnic group as the Kukis, who fled violence and persecution in Myanmar and entered India, the Kukis have become enraged.

The BJP Chief Minister’s firm position against what he claims is tribal tribes’ encroachment on protected and restricted forest areas in the Manipuri hills is motivated by a number of factors, including the fact that a sizable portion of the hills are being exploited for poppy production. The government views its attack on forest regions as a part of a larger fight on narcotics, but it is also guilty of referring to all Kuki people as “drug lords” in general.

Second, Manipur’s land is under significant strain. The tribal settlements’ inhabitants tend to grow and extend out into the neighbouring forest regions, which they believe to be their historical and traditional right. The government disputes this. The Meitei, who reside in the valleys, are also incensed because indigenous people are permitted to own land in the valleys but they are not permitted to dwell or purchase property there.

Regarding how it intends to acknowledge new communities, the government has no clear policies. Manipur doesn’t have a transparent forest policy either. Resentment has grown as a result, even inside its own party.

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