Social Issues

Ethnic clashes in India’s northeast killed 60, says official

New Delhi, May 9 (EFE).- India on Tuesday confirmed that at least 60 “innocent” people lost their lives during ethnic clashes between various tribes in the northeastern state of Manipur last week.

The violence in the restive state, which has been under curfew now for a week, also wounded 231 people.

“The number of lives lost in the incident as of now is around 60. Around 231 people have been injured and around 1,700 houses were burnt down,” Chief Minister Biren Singh told reporters.

“It is a very, very unfortunate incident and I appeal to the people of the state of Manipur to (remain) calm and we should together try to win peace in the state at the earliest possible,” Singh said.

The violence erupted on May 3 after members of several ethnic minority groups protested against the majority Meitei Hindu community that has demanded a special status.

The status would give the Meiteis the right to farm on forest land and a reserved quota in government jobs besides other facilities like easier bank loans, education, and health.

The state government called the army and federal paramilitary forces to quell the violence.

On Apr.20, the Manipur High Court asked the state government to include the Meitei tribe, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the population in the state, in its scheduled tribe list.

In India, backward or discriminated groups or communities are included in a special list of scheduled castes/tribes.

It allows them access to several special welfare schemes of the government, including reservations in education, jobs, and electoral seats.

The court move led to strong opposition from the other tribes who form a minority in the region.

They claim that granting the Meitei tribe a special status would put them at a disadvantage.

However, members of the majority Meitei community argue that they were unfairly removed from the list of Special Tribes in 1948 when Manipur became a state of India.

The clashes, which mainly involved members of Kuki and Naga minorities against the Meitei tribe in different regions, have left thousands of buildings burned, including churches and temples.

Authorities have evacuated thousands of people from the violence-hit areas and sheltered them in temporary camps. Thousands more have fled to the neighboring states.

“More than 20,000 people have been moved to safety. I hope we will be able to attain peace and get back to normal life very soon,” Singh said.

Although the violence decreased significantly, internet services remain suspended as part of the measures to control the situation. EFE


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