Escalating Tensions in Manipur: A State Forgotten by India

The DeepeninThe Deepening Crisis in Manipur: A Struggle for Peace and Recognitiong Crisis in Manipur: A Struggle for Peace and Recognition

In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express, Manipur’s Chief Minister N. Biren Singh mentioned the alleged involvement of an “international hand” in the ongoing violence in Manipur, supported by information from the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Simultaneously, the Union home ministry has requested reports on certain Kuki militant groups involved in negotiations amid concerns that they may be receiving support from Kuki-Zo groups in Myanmar. These Kuki groups are also accused of attempting to create a greater Kuki homeland by merging territories from Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India. However, this idea lacks support among the Kuki community in Manipur.

The Kukis are growing frustrated with the slow progress of talks in New Delhi and the lack of transparency surrounding them. They question why a Union territory with an assembly cannot be established for them, emphasizing the unbridgeable gap between the hills and Imphal.

Kukis, who used to work in Imphal, has been unable to return for the past five months due to the conflict. The distrust deepened after Manipur University initially awarded poor marks to hill college students, which were later revised upward following protests. And that led many Kuki students to seek admission in other states.

The treatment of individuals who advocate for peace and restraint, such as Babloo Loitongbam and Thounaojam Brinda, is causing concern among the Kukis. Even well-meaning Meiteis are feeling unsafe in Imphal, raising questions about the safety of the Kuki community.

The absence of concern from New Delhi and Prime Minister Modi has only exacerbated their despair. Kuki militant groups have shifted their demands from the application of Schedule VI of the Indian Constitution to the creation of a Union territory and a separate administration, a proposal that Meiteis are unwilling to consider.

While Meiteis in the hills have been able to return to Imphal and lead relatively normal lives, many Kukis remain in relief camps, reliant on aid from compassionate donors. Medical volunteers and counselors visit the camps, where survivors of brutal killings bear lifelong scars.

The Kukis have realized that the BJP is unlikely to dismiss Chief Minister Biren Singh, who they view as the source of their problems. As long as he remains in office, dialogue and reconciliation appear elusive.

The Kukis find it hard to trust a chief minister who has been accused of patronizing radical Meitei groups responsible for the violence. They question why Manipur police officers who distributed deadly weapons to these groups have not faced the consequences.

Biren Singh’s actions of declaring the hills a “disturbed area” and maintaining the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the hills have fueled their concerns.

Furthermore, his demand to fence the border with Myanmar has aggravated the Kukis, as many people from the border areas rely on Myanmar for medical care, given the inadequacy of healthcare facilities in the hills.

Despite concerns about drug trafficking and addiction, the Kukis believe that individuals with government connections orchestrate the narcotics trade. They emphasize that the government has the resources to address this issue effectively.

All signs indicate that the conflict in Manipur is entering a perilous phase, and it could escalate further if New Delhi and the media remain preoccupied with other issues.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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