Violence erupts in Manipur as Meitei community demands inclusion in Scheduled Tribe category
The Indian state of Manipur has been plagued by violence since May 3, after the Meitei community organized demonstrations demanding inclusion in the “Scheduled Tribe (ST)” category. The Meitei community comprises over 50% of the population in Manipur, but they are not included under the ST category, which provides political representation, quotas in schools and civil services.
The violence in Manipur began when soldiers were ordered to “shoot” during the Meitei community’s demonstrations, resulting in the deaths of 60 people and the evacuation of 35,000 residents to safe areas. 230 people were injured, and 1,700 homes were set on fire during the events.
While the Meitei community’s protests were peaceful, opposition from groups such as the Kukis, who account for 30% of the state’s population, led to violence. One-third of Manipur’s 2.5 million population live in just 10% of the state’s land, and the Meitei community claims that they face difficulties due to increased migration from Myanmar and Bangladesh.
After the events, a curfew was imposed in seven districts, and internet access was temporarily closed. Thousands of security personnel were deployed to the region, and 7,500 civilians took refuge in military and government facilities.
State Prime Minister Biren Singh stated that the violence was under control, but 1,041 guns and 7,460 bullets belonging to the security forces were stolen during the intervention. The Manipur state administration later released a statement noting that warnings to prevent violence were ineffective, and that soldiers were authorized to shoot in “extraordinary” situations.
The Meitei community’s demands for inclusion in the ST category remain unresolved.