Army deployed to quell violence in eastern India
New Delhi, May 4 (EFE).- Indian government deployed army forces on Thursday to control violence and restore order in its northeastern state of Manipur, after protests turned into violent clashes between several ethnic groups.
“Indian Army and (paramilitary) Assam Rifles undertook major rescue operations to evacuate more than 7,500 civilians of all communities relentlessly throughout the night to restore law and order in Manipur,” Indian army said in a statement.
On Apr.20, the Manipur High Court asked the state government to include the Meitei tribe, which accounts for more than 50 percent of its population, in its list of scheduled tribes.
In India, groups or communities that have been historically backward or dominated against are usually included in a special list of scheduled castes/tribes, thus allowing them access to several special welfare schemes of the government, including reservation in education, jobs, electoral seats, among others.
The court’s move led to strong opposition from the other tribes who form a minority in the region, who claimed that granting them special status would put them at a disadvantage.
Protests have been organized by the other tribes and progressively gained momentum over the last month before resulting in clashes between the majority and minority groups on Wednesday, plunging the state into a spiral of violence.
Numerous buildings have been burned, including churches, during these riots, as could be seen in videos uploaded on social media.
“Precious lives have been lost, besides damage to properties, which is very unfortunate,” Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh posted on Twitter.
“The state government is taking all steps to maintain the law and order situation and additional para-military forces have been requisitioned to protect the lives and properties of the people,” he added in the video.
He said the clashes between the two communities were “due to misunderstanding” and “now everything has been settled” and the situation “will be normalized very soon.”
To control the situation, the local government on Wednesday suspended Internet services for five days and imposed a curfew in several areas of the remote state. EFE