Ethnic and Religious Tensions in India are Still Simmering in Manipur

Ethnic and Religious Tensions in India are Still Simmering in Manipur

Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Ethnic and religious tensions are still simmering in Manipur in Northeast India. Hence, tens of thousands have been displaced and many killed.

Tensions persist between tribal Christians who predominate in the hills and the power mechanism of the valley state dominated by Hindus.

Kuki tribals organized a major protest in early May. The Kuki protested against the prospect of the Meitei being deemed a “Scheduled Tribe.” Since then bloodshed and the burning of homes have occurred after clashes with the non-tribal Meitei.

The Kuki and Naga are overwhelmingly Christian and are deemed under the “Scheduled Tribe” status. Accordingly, these tribal groups – and others including the Mizo – are given privileged land-owning rights in the hill areas and surrounding environs. Therefore, the fear is that Meitei Hindu power concentration will further increase if they are also deemed a “Scheduled Tribe.”

The Hindu Meitei counter that they need equal rights and need the “Scheduled Tribe” status.

Reuters reports, “…members of the Kuki and Naga tribes, who inhabit Manipur’s hills and are regarded as Scheduled Tribes, or India’s most disadvantaged groups, launched a protest against the possible extension of their benefits to the dominant Meiteis.”

The Guardian reports, “In towns and villages across India’s north-eastern state of Manipur, some houses have been reduced to ashes while neighboring properties stand untouched, after an eruption of ethnic violence in which more than 70 were murdered and 30,000 forced to flee.”

Ethnic and religious tensions abound throughout the region – Bangladesh and Myanmar – and tensions simmer between China and India.

The central government in India needs to reach out to all sides and listen to their respective grievances.

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