A combustible mix of history, identity politics, faith and brutal turf wars keep the fire of the Meitei-Kuki conflict raging in the state
SHADES OF DYSTOPIA: Remains of a church and houses burned down in ethnic clashes at Langching village, 45 km from Imphal. (Photo: AFP)
Over the past month and a half, Manipur has been seized by repeated cycles of violence, bloodletting and failed efforts at peace. Since May 3, when ethnic clashes first erupted in the northeastern state, 130 people have died, 352 have been injured and some 60,000 have had to flee their homes. The list under ‘still counting’…over 4,300 incidents of arson, nearly 3,500 houses destroyed in around 275 villages, 4,000 firearms looted by violent mobs from police armouries. All this despite Manipur being under a heavy security blanket—the state has India’s third-highest number of police personnel per 100,000 people; large parts of it are under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), with 114 companies of various central forces deployed. To top it all, a ‘double engine’ regime—BJP governments at the Centre and the state—is in power. ‘Triple engine’ if you count the not-inconsiderable presence of one of the party’s strongest leaders as a chief minister in the neighbourhood. And the Union home ministry (MHA) is constantly monitoring the situation.