Ethnic violence in Manipur, India has resulted in the deaths of more than 55 people, with over 260 hospitalized and 23,000 displaced, according to hospital officials and the Indian army. The violence was triggered by clashes between members of the Kuki and Meitei ethnic groups in the city of Imphal and elsewhere.
Reports from hospital officials in Imphal indicate that gunshot wounds are the most common injury sustained during the clashes, with victims suffering severe bullet injuries or being hit in the head with sticks. Vehicles and buildings have been set on fire, with thick black smoke billowing from the streets.
The Indian army has deployed troops to the streets, and a five-day mobile internet blackout is currently in force. Displaced civilians are being housed on military bases and garrisons across the state.
A youth tribal leader who works in Imphal reported that his house had been vandalized and ransacked on May 4, and he had been staying in an army camp since then. The violence appears to be a well-planned series of attacks, with the mob targeting the houses where people from tribal communities reside.
The state government of Manipur and the Indian army have yet to respond to CNN’s request for comment on the situation. The army, however, said it had rescued a total of 23,000 civilians and moved them to operating bases and military garrisons. It added that there was a lull in the fighting due to the rescue work carried out by the 120-125 Army and Assam Rifles, which had been working tirelessly for the past 96 hours to rescue civilians across all communities, curb violence and restore normalcy.
The violence began after thousands of tribal people took part in a rally organized by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur against the potential inclusion of the state’s majority Meitei ethnic group in India’s “Scheduled Tribe” grouping. The Meitei community, who make up about 50% of the state’s population, have campaigned for years to be recognized as a scheduled tribe, which would give them access to wider benefits including health, education, and government jobs. However, other tribal groups fear they will not have a fair chance for jobs and other benefits if the Meitei community are given scheduled tribe status.
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