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Manipur conflict UPSC NOTE

 Ongoing ethnic clashes

  • The latest and officially confirmed body count in Manipur’s tragic conflict is 225, of whom, 115 are Kuki-Zos, 102 are Meiteis and eight are from other communities. 

  • The picture is not very different when it comes to the numbers affected in displacement as well, for there has been mutual ethnic cleansing on either side of the newly-created conflict buffer

  • The proximate cause of the violence was a row over an affirmative action measure. 

  • On 14 April 2023, acting on a writ petition, the Manipur High Court ordered the state government to send a recommendation to the central government on the demand for a Scheduled Tribe status by the valley-based Meitei community, a decision later criticised by the Supreme Court

  • To protest the Meitei demands for the scheduled tribe status, the All Tribal Students' Union Manipur conducted peaceful protest marches on 3 May. 

  • After one of these marches, clashes broke out between Kuki and Meitei groups near the border between the Churachandpur district and Bishnupur district, followed by house burning.

  • The violence quickly spread to the Kuki-dominated Churachandpur town and the Meitei-dominated Imphal Valley, targeting the minority community in each area.

Failure of Conflict Resolution

  • Not long after the ethnic violence broke out, it had become clear that the State government was no longer in charge

  • From the patterns of security deployments and operations henceforth, it was more than apparent that the State government had been almost sidelined. 

  • For instance, CM Biren Singh was unceremoniously removed from the customary chairmanship of the unified command of the different security establishments in the State by an order of the Governor on May 31, 2023. 

  • Only his power to summon meetings of this body was retained.

  • Mr. Amit Shah made a declaration saying there was to be a buffer zone along the foothills where the Imphal valley meets the surrounding hills

  • And, the hills were to be looked after by central forces while the State police were for the valley

  • This may have been well-intentioned, but it proved to be ill-conceived. 

  • Probably, the assumption was that separating the warring communities would freeze the feud, and that normalcy would return

  • But when the conflict dragged on longer than anticipated, several unanticipated consequences became obvious

  • For one, the Meiteis, now confined in the valley, began to suspect the central forces, especially the Assam Rifles, of siding with the Kuki-Zos in the hills. 

  • And, conversely, the Kuki-Zos began viewing the State police as partisan to the Meiteis

  • This is despite the fact that the Assam Rifles has several Meitei officers and troopers, just as the Manipur police constabularies draw their recruits from the many communities in the State. 

  • These forces may just have been doing their brief, but amidst the dangerous and hateful passions, they ended up being coloured with communal hues.

Centre's handling of the situation and its implications

  • The absence of violence does give a semblance of normalcy, but when no efforts are made alongside to identify the underlying causes of discord and put them to rest, a single spark — intentional or accidental — can cause an inferno. 

  • The outlook of unofficial President’s Rule in Manipur has been to manage and moderate the feud, so as to keep the damage minimal and not resolve it. 

  • It is bewildering to wonder why no move has been made yet to clamp down on both sides of the fence, using proportionate and legitimate force, to establish the law firmly and to strengthen the hands of the law

  • Maybe it was the forthcoming general election then, and the issue of optics being the inhibitor — to have a Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled State under President’s Rule would have been damaging

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Manipur conflict UPSC NOTE
Manipur conflict UPSC NOTE
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