July 14, 2024

At least 30 people have been killed in ethnic clashes in the remote Indian state of Manipur, officials say.

The violence began earlier this week after a rally by indigenous communities against moves to grant tribal status to the main ethnic group in the state.

Mobs attacked homes, vehicles, churches, and temples. Some reports put the death toll as high as 54.

Around 10,000 people have reportedly been displaced. Thousands of troops have been sent in to maintain order.

A curfew is in place in several districts and internet access has been suspended.

Neighbouring states have begun evacuating their students from Manipur, which is in India’s northeast and close to the border with Myanmar.

The army says it is bringing the situation under control but the Hindu-nationalist BJP-led government in the state has been accused of not doing enough to prevent the violence.

Members of the Meitei community, who account for at least 50% of the state’s population, have been demanding inclusion under the Scheduled Tribe category for years.

India reserves government jobs, college admissions and elected seats at all levels of government for communities under this category to rectify historical wrongs that have denied them equal opportunities.

This status would give the Meiteis access to forest lands and guarantee them a proportion of government jobs and places in educational institutions.

Other tribes are worried that they may lose control over their ancestral forest dwellings.

On Tuesday, thousands of tribal people from the hill districts of the state participated in a march called by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur to oppose the demand.

A day later, a similar rally turned violent, sparking unrest in other districts that has since spread. Each side blames the other for the unrest.





Credit: By Kathryn Armstrong
BBC News

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