Manipur: Kukis’ discontent over the proposed peace plan sparks fresh violence, leaving nine injured

Manipur

In the midst of escalating tensions between the Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur, fresh violence erupted with a gunfight in the Khamenlok area of Imphal East district. The clash resulted in nine more individuals being injured. The exchange of gunfire between militants and village volunteers continued until late Monday night, causing casualties to rise. Eventually, both sides withdrew from the conflict. Additionally, the village volunteers set fire to makeshift bunkers and a watchtower constructed by the militants. This area, situated along the borders of the Meitei-dominated Imphal East district and the tribal-majority Kangpokpi district, has become a hotbed of conflict.

Local hospitals have admitted the injured, with one person in critical condition while others are considered out of danger, according to medical authorities. To prevent further outbreaks of violence and assert control over the area, security forces have been deployed in large numbers, engaging in area domination exercises. The incident on Monday followed a period of relative calm in the region for three days. In a separate incident in Govindpur village, Bishnupur district, one militant was killed and two others injured in a gun battle with security forces. The clash ensued when security forces challenged the militants who were attempting to construct bunkers around villages.

The ongoing ethnic violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities has claimed the lives of at least 100 individuals, while 310 others have been injured. The army and para-military personnel have been deployed to restore peace in Manipur. Curfews remain in effect in 11 out of the 16 districts, and internet services have been suspended throughout the state. The clashes initially began on May 3, triggered by a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ organized in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

Meiteis make up around 53 percent of Manipur’s population and primarily reside in the Imphal Valley, while the Nagas and Kukis, both tribal communities, account for approximately 40 percent of the population and live in the hill districts.

Meanwhile, Kuki members who were included in a committee established by the Central government to facilitate peace-making among the various ethnic groups of strife-torn Manipur have expressed dissatisfaction. They claim that their names were included in the panel without prior consultation. Several Kuki organizations have objected to the inclusion of Chief Minister N Biren Singh in the 51-member panel, which is headed by Governor Anusuiya Uikey.

On the other hand, the Meitei community members have welcomed the formation of the Peace Committee. The apex body of Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) issued a statement expressing their concerns about the lack of consultation and information regarding their president’s inclusion in the committee. The KIM emphasized that pursuing peace solely with individuals who have been involved in violence against their people lacks rationale. They believe that peace should result from the combined efforts of the Union Home Ministry and the affected communities, rather than being imposed as a condition for normalcy.

The Kuki-based civil society organization Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) has also criticized the inclusion of Chief Minister N Biren Singh in the panel, stating that the formation of such a Peace Committee by the Central government should only occur after ensuring normalcy and security for Kuki-tribal villages.

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