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Tribal vs. Non-Tribal Conflict Escalates in Manipur


Tribal vs. Non-Tribal Conflict Escalates in Manipur

The state of Manipur is currently experiencing turmoil as tensions escalate between tribal and non-tribal groups. The cause of the conflict stems from the Manipur government's recent efforts to grant the non-tribal Meitei community tribal status, which has resulted in violent protests and clashes.


On May 3, a Tribal Solidarity March organized by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) in the Torbung area of Churachandpur district turned violent, as protesters gathered to oppose the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by the dominant non-tribal Meitei community. The police had to use tear gas to disperse the crowd, and a government building was set on fire by the protesters in Chandrapur.


As a response to the escalating violence, curfews were imposed in eight districts of Manipur, and mobile internet services were suspended across the entire northeastern state for five days.


The ATSUM had called for the march to protest against moves to grant the majority Meitei community in the Imphal Valley ST status, which was supported by lawmakers of the Valley. This move has alarmed the tribal communities who are currently protected by various laws and regulations.


The Meiteis, who make up 53% of the state's population, reside in the Valley and claim that they are facing problems due to large-scale illegal immigration by Myanmarese and Bangladeshis.


The hill districts, which account for a significant portion of Manipur's land mass, are mostly inhabited by tribal communities, including the Nagas and Kukis. Tribal villagers from remote areas traveled to the nearest hill district headquarters to attend the rallies and show their opposition to the demand for ST status by the Meiteis.


The Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee Manipur (STDCM) is leading the movement to include the Meiteis in the ST category. They claim that the demand is not only for reservation in jobs, educational institutions, and tax relief, but also to protect their ancestral land, culture, and identity, which they believe are being threatened.

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