Meitei and Kuki groups in Manipur demand government intervention amid escalating violence

Two significant groups in Manipur, the Meitei and Kuki communities, have demanded action from the BJP-led government due to ongoing clashes that have resulted in over 200 fatalities.

Livemint
First Published20 Jan 2024
Police personnel fire tear gas towards women who came to meet Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, in Imphal on January 18
Police personnel fire tear gas towards women who came to meet Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, in Imphal on January 18(PTI Photo)

Two significant groups representing the Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur have strengthened their demands for action from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in the state, Hindustan Times reported. The ongoing clashes, which commenced on May 3 last year, have resulted in over 200 fatalities.

Since January 16, seven individuals, including two policemen, lost their lives, with at least a dozen others, including three Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, sustaining injuries in clashes across Tengnoupal, Thoubal, Bishnupur, and Imphal West districts of Manipur amid escalating violence.

Also Read | Manipur violence: 5 Meiteis dead, 4 BSF personnel injured; Three commando units to be relocated

What are the demands?

On January 19, a delegation from the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI), a coalition of Meitei groups, met Chief Minister N Biren Singh and issued a warning, urging the government to take action against those responsible for the civilian and security force casualties.

COCOMI coordinator Jeetendra Ningomba expressed concerns about increased attacks and demanded visible action, specifically targeting alleged Chin-Kuki terrorists allegedly smuggling weapons from Myanmar.

Also Read | Manipur's Moreh remains tense as militants kill 2 cops, women block road to Imphal airport

“There have been increased attacks on our people in Moreh and other places in the past few days. We discussed these in detail with the CM and demanded some visible action on the government’s part like targeting Chin-Kuki terrorists who are illegally bringing weapons from Myanmar. It seems the Centre is not bothered about the situation in Manipur. We asked the CM to explain the ground situation to the central government so that it takes steps to end this violence. If they fail to do so, we will be forced to raise our voice or launch an agitation,” Ningomba said.

Simultaneously, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), a significant Kuki group, accused the state government of supporting Meiteis and issued a warning. The recent violence escalated in Moreh of Tengnoupal following an attack on security forces and the arrest of two Kuki individuals linked to the killing of a police officer last year.

Also Read | Manipur violence: Four missing after fresh firing in Bishnupur

“Our demands were not taken into consideration by the government. We will not allow the one-sided communal government favouring only the Meiteis to function in the Kuki-Zo areas. The government will be solely responsible for any untoward incidents that may transpire in the process,” the ITLF notice read.

Background of Ethnic Violence

The ethnic violence between the Meitei majority in Imphal Valley and the Kuki-Zo communities dominant in hill districts has been ongoing since May 2023. The conflict has claimed at least 207 lives and displaced around 50,000 individuals.

Also Read | Manipur news: Fresh violence erupts between security forces, Kuki militants in Moreh; commando dead

Five civilians were killed, and three BSF personnel were injured in fresh violence spreading through several districts in Manipur on January 17 night and January 18 morning. This follows an attack on police personnel in Tengnoupal, resulting in seven dead and nine injured over two days.

State security adviser Kuldeep Singh assured that joint operations were underway to control the violence in Moreh, expressing hope to tackle the situation within a day or two.

“We have taken steps so that all forces can be put together and take action...Joint operations have been identified and they are underway (to control the violence in Moreh)...We are trying our best to tackle the situation. We hope in a day or two we will be able to do so,” he said.

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