What provoked the ethnic violence in India’s Manipur?
AFP: At least 120 people have been killed since May in armed clashes in Manipur, a remote state in northeast India with a history of ethnic conflict.
Soldiers were rushed in from other parts of the country to contain the violence, and months later a curfew and internet shutdown remain in force across most of the state.
Thousands of guns were stolen when the unrest began, and militia groups on both sides of the state’s ethnic divide are hunkering down for a protracted fight. Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week faces a no-confidence motion in parliament over the violence, with the opposition accusing him of inaction.
AFP looks at the origins of the conflict and its consequences:Why did the latest violence start?The dispute stems from animosity between Manipur’s Meitei majority and the Kuki, one of several tribal groups in the state that make up about 16% of its population.The Meitei are predominantly Hindu and largely live in urban centers, while the mainly Christian Kuki usually live in scattered settlements in the state’s hills. Longstanding tensions between the two communities have revolved around competition for land and public jobs, with rights activists accusing local leaders of exacerbating ethnic divisions for political gain.
Things came to a head in May over plans to recognize the Meitei as a “Scheduled Tribe” — a status already conferred upon the Kuki.This would grant them a form of affirmative action through guaranteed quotas of government jobs and college admissions. Kuki groups staged protests over fears the plans could reduce their own entitlements, with rallies quickly spiraling into violence. Protesters set fire to vehicles and buildings, and Meitei mobs armed with guns and petrol cans then attacked Kuki settlements in the hills.