At least 13 people have died and dozens more have been injured in mob violence in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, where the Meiteis, Manipur’s majority community, are demanding Scheduled Tribe status, which has led to violent protests. The All Tribal Students Union of Manipur held a demonstration on May 3 to protest against the Meiteis’ proposed ST status.
Additionally, the Manipur High Court instructed the state government to provide a suggestion to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry to approve the granting of ST status to the Meiteis on April 30. The proposed ST status for the Meiteis has sparked protests by the tribal communities, who argue that their constitutional safeguards and rights would be affected..
The Wire confirmed two cases of death due to the violence, while Sangai Express published from Imphal put the number of dead at 11. Police were also accused of taking sides, with members of the Meitei community allegedly receiving preferential treatment.
The Chief Minister of Manipur, N. Biren Singh, has assured that his government is taking measures to address the current situation. However, this statement seems to contradict the events on the ground, where there have been reports of gunfire and stone throwing.
In addition, the Manipur government has enacted several measures in response to the unrest, including a five-day shutdown of internet services and a curfew in eight districts of Manipur, primarily non-tribal districts such as Imphal West, Kakching, Thoubal, Jiribam, and Bishnupur, as well as Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, and Tengnoupal, which have a significant tribal population.
The family of one victim, Mangminjoy, claimed that he was shot by Manipur police commandoes. According to Letkhohao Haokip, a resident of Saikul, Mangminjoy was shot while trying to help members of the Kuki community, to which he belonged. The family claims that Mangminjoy was shot between 1 am and 2 am, and they rushed him to the Saikul community health center where he was declared dead around 3 am. Another victim, Thangginlun Lupheng, died immediately after being shot by a man who was part of a mob.
Vungzagin Valte, a former tribal affairs minister and a three-time MLA of the BJP, was assaulted by a group of people on May 4 in Imphal. This incident took place as he was returning home after attending a meeting with the Chief Minister, N. Biren Singh. While Valte and his driver came under attack, his personal security officer escaped.
The MLA is reportedly in critical condition and undergoing treatment at the intensive care unit of the government-owned RIMS in Imphal. An individual who was admitted to RIMS along with the MLA was killed in the mob violence, according to a Sangai Express report.
The Manipur state government has imposed Section 144 CrPc throughout the state, which authorizes district magistrates to issue orders prohibiting the gathering of four or more people in a public place, to prevent unlawful assembly and maintain peace. The order also prohibits the carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons in public places.
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The Union Minister for Development of the NE Region, G Kishan Reddy, has called for calm and urged all stakeholders to engage in dialogue to resolve the issue. “The central government is closely monitoring the situation in Manipur and has assured all possible support to the state government in maintaining law and order,” he said.
The violence has prompted outrage across India, with many people taking to social media to condemn the situation. Meanwhile, the Manipur government is facing increasing pressure to act swiftly and restore peace in the region.
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Gangtokian Web Team, 05/05/23