Conflicts & War

Chaos grips India’s northeast as ethnic violence continues

New Delhi, Jun 17 (EFE).- Multiple shootings and mob attacks were reported overnight in several regions of northeastern India, which has been gripped by a wave of ethnic violence that has left more than 100 dead since last month.

About 500 people on Friday night attempted to storm the armory of a police station in Irengbam, in the city of Imphal, capital of the state of Manipur, a police officer from the capital’s headquarters told EFE.

The attempted assault was repelled by police and the Rapid Action Force (RAF), the spokesperson added, who did not provide details of potential casualties.

Meanwhile, Indian media reported clashes between security forces and attempts to set fire to the homes of leaders of the ruling BJP, as well as gunshots in Manipur overnight.

The conflict between the Kuki tribal group, concentrated in the hilly areas of the province, and the majority Meitei community settled in the valley, began in early May and has killed nearly 100 people, while over 50,000 have been forced to flee their homes. The Indian government has not given an official death toll.

The clashes began after a demonstration by the minority tribal communities against the regional High Court advising the inclusion of the Meiteis in the list of disadvantaged “scheduled” tribes, which would allow the majority and predominantly Hindu community to gain access to quotas in education and government jobs available to disadvantaged groups in India.

That possibility has infuriated the minority tribal communities, including the mostly Christian Kukis.

In an attempt to put an end to the hostilities, the government has formed a peace committee that includes representatives from different ethnic groups of the state, as well as ministers and public personalities.

Both Kukis and Meiteis have criticized the composition of the body even as the deteriorating situation in Manipur has led to allegations of attempted ethnic cleansing and calls for a separate state for Kukis.

Internet services were suspended more than a month ago by the authorities and restrictions on the territory, considered a protected area, have limited communications and access to real-time information on what is happening in the region.

“I’m just an ordinary Indian from Manipur living a retired life. The state is now ‘stateless’. Life and property can be destroyed anytime by anyone just like in Libya, Lebanon, Nigeria, Syria, etc. It appears Manipur has been left to stew in its own juice. Is anyone listening?” retired Indian Lt. Gen. Nishikanta Singh tweeted this week.

Former Army chief Ved Malik reacted Friday to Singh’s call for urgent government action to stop the conflict.

“An extraordinarily sad call from a retired Lt Gen from Manipur. Law and order situation in Manipur needs urgent attention at the highest level,” he said. EFE


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