The small Indian state of Manipur has been engaged in ethnic conflict as the two largest groups, the majority Meitei and the minority Kuki, fight for control of territory and influence.

This week, shocking video of an attack in May in which two Kuki women were paraded naked by Meitei men immediately after their village was destroyed was made public. This was the latest instance of violence against women in the area.

No guilty will be spared.

PM Narendra Modi

Manipur’s location and their people

The mountainous region of northeast India borders Myanmar and is located east of Bangladesh. An estimated 3,436,948 individuals live there.

The majority minority tribes, the Kukis and Nagas, make up about 43% of the population, while more over half are Meiteis.

Who are kukis?

The northeastern Indian states of Manipur, Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram as well as the neighboring nations of Bangladesh and Myanmar are home to the Kuki people. One of the hill tribes of India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar is the Kuki. They exist in every state in Northeast India, with the exception of Arunachal Pradesh.

According to the Kuki community’s dialect and geographic background, almost fifty Kuki tribes in India are recognized as scheduled tribes[8].

The Kukis are related to the Chin people of Myanmar and the Mizo people of Mizoram. They are referred to as the Zo people as a whole.

Meitei people

The largest and most prevalent ethnic group in Manipur, Northeast India, is the Meitei people, also known as the Meetei people. One of the 22 official languages of the Indian Republic and the single official language of Manipur is Meitei, also known as Manipuri. Although a significant number of Meiteis have established in the other Indian states of Assam, Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya, and Mizoram, their main settlement area is the Imphal Valley region in modern-day Manipur. Meitei are also notably present in Bangladesh and Myanmar, which are nearby nations. The Meitei ethnic group makes up around 53% of the population of Manipur.

Who controls Manipur?

The state government in Manipur is run by Meitei N Biren Singh and is part of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which also controls the federal government of India.

Despite making up 53% of the population, the Meitei also own 40 of the 60 seats in the regional parliament. The Kukis claim that regions in Mr. Singh’s recent campaign against the growing of poppies for the heroin trade were targeted.

The administration of Mr. Singh charged Kuki rebel organizations with stirring up the populace.

Present Situation

Since the start of the violence in May, at least 130 people have died and 400 have been injured. As the army, paramilitary forces, and police work to put an end to the bloodshed, more than 60,000 people have been driven from their homes.

Numerous churches, more than a dozen temples, police armories, and communities have all been devastated.

How did it begin?

Tensions erupted when Kukis started protesting Meitei claims for official tribal recognition, which they claimed would increase their already substantial influence on the government and society and allow them to purchase land or settle in Kuki-dominated areas.

However, there are numerous underlying causes. The Kukis claim that the Meitei-led government’s campaign against narcotics is a ruse to evict their towns.

Tensions have increased as a result of illegal immigration from Myanmar. A increasing population is putting strain on how land is used, and unemployment has drawn young people into different militias.

The Kuki and Meitei, who are they?

This time, the conflict is strictly rooted in ethnicity, not religion.

Dhiren A Sadokpam, editor of The Frontier Manipur

Meitei, Kuki and Naga militias have for decades fought one another over conflicting homeland demands and religious differences, and all sides have clashed with India’s security forces. The latest flare-up, however, is almost entirely between the Meitei and the Kuki.

Manipur, Myanmar, and the surrounding areas are the Meitei’s ancestral home. Although some adhere to the Sanamahi religion, the vast majority are Hindu. The Kukis, who are primarily Christians, have spread throughout the northeast of India, and many of them in Manipur have ties to Myanmar as well.

The majority of Meiteis reside in the Imphal valley, whereas the Kukis are in the nearby hills and beyond.

Why are women being assaulted?

The violence in May allegedly followed fabricated reports that Kuki militiamen had sexually assaulted a Meitei woman. According to reports, this started “a new, deadly cycle of retaliatory violence against Kuki tribal women by Meitei mobs.

Action taken by Central Government

Prior to the release of the attack’s video this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been silent about the unrest in Manipur. His statement that the tragedy had “shamed India” and that “no guilty will be spared… what happened with the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven” was followed by his promise that “no guilty will be spared.”

But many Indians are wondering why it took him so long to publicly address Manipur.

To stop the most recent round of violence, the Indian government has sent 40,000 soldiers, paramilitary forces, and police to the area. It has so far rebuffed requests for direct rule from tribal chiefs.

However, the violence keeps growing and expelling more villagers from their homes.

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