New Delhi, Sep 26 (EFE).- The confirmation of the killing of two young men missing since July in India’s northeastern state of Manipur raised tensions on Tuesday in a region that has been stuck in a spiral of ethnic violence for months, with at least 175 people being killed and over 50,000 displaced.
Several photos of 20-year-old Phijam Hemjit and Hijam Linthoingambi (17), some of them showing them alive and in the company of armed men and others showing their dead bodies, began circulating on social networks after the government of Manipur restored internet in the state over the past weekend after four months of a shutdown.
The authorities confirmed the death of the two students in a statement on Monday, and said that the case had been transferred to Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), a federal agency.
“State police, in collaboration with the central security agencies, are actively investigating the case to determine the circumstances surrounding their disappearance and to identify the perpetrators who murdered the two students,” the Manipur chief minister’s secretariat said.
The news of the killings triggered protests on Tuesday as per local media reports, with the authorities again blocking mobile internet services and appealing for calm.
Both the adolescents lived in villages close to each other and belonged to the majority Meitei community, involved in ethnic clashes in the state since May, which have practically divided Manipur’s population along ethnic lines.
The violence had erupted after the Manipur high court recommended that Meiteis be included in the list of disadvantaged tribes or indigenous communities, which infuriated the minority Kuki community, concentrated in the hilly areas of the state,
The Kukis – a mostly Christian community – have been opposing the largely Hindu Meiteis’ demand to be identified as underprivileged “scheduled tribes” (ST), which could result in the latter getting quotas in public sector jobs and higher education.
The court’s decision was seen by the Kukis as a way to take away their few privileges and make the Hindu ethnic majority prevail.
As per authorities at least 175 people have been killed in the violence while over 1,000 have been injured, even as the severity of the violence has grabbed headlines in the national media and also resulted in a no-confidence motion in the parliament. EFE