Manipur groups mark one year of conflict with cry for peace, justice

Candle-light vigils and prayer meetings in Manipur; demonstrations held in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar

May 03, 2024 09:53 pm | Updated May 04, 2024 07:05 am IST - New Delhi

Members of the Kuki-Zo community stage a protest in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to mark one year since the beginning of the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur. Photo: Special Arrangement

Members of the Kuki-Zo community stage a protest in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to mark one year since the beginning of the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur. Photo: Special Arrangement | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Both Kuki-Zo and Meitei groups on Friday held events across Manipur and in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to mark one year since the beginning of the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur between the two communities, with several Kuki-Zo and Meitei organisations calling for peace and making their case before the Centre.  

While the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum in Churachandpur held a prayer service in the morning to honour people from their community who had been killed in the violence so far, civil society organisations in the valley such as the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity along with other similar outfits passed a resolution calling for a plan for permanent peace in the State. Events were also held by Kuki-Zo bodies in Kangpokpi, with a candlelight vigil being taken out in both the hill districts for the people they had lost in the conflict so far. 

The ethnic conflict in Manipur began one year ago on May 3 between the valley-based majority Meitei people and the hills-based Scheduled Tribe Kuki-Zo people in the immediate backdrop of a Manipur High Court order that directed the State government to consider the inclusion of Meiteis in the ST list. 

Also read: Discussion on one year of Manipur violence

In the one year since, over 221 people and at least a dozen security personnel have lost their lives, thousands have been injured and over 50,000 people internally displaced. In addition, at least 31 people from the Meitei community and 15 from the Kuki-Zo people are still missing. 

On Friday morning, the Kuki Students’ Organisation-Delhi NCR held a protest gathering at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, which was attended by hundreds of people. Later in the day, Meitei civil society organisations based in Delhi, held a similar demonstration at the same location. Both protests called for a return to peace, accountability, and justice for the people of Manipur. 

The KSO’s Delhi chapter also sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister, arguing that the community will need the Union government to set out measures for their self-administration, in order for the healing process to begin. Another memorandum, asserting the separate administration demand, was also sent to the Union government by the Zomi Council Steering Committee as well. The Kuki Inpi Manipur also sent a memorandum to the Centre setting out a four-point agenda. 

This included demands that the bodies yet to be returned to them be done as soon as possible, establishment of measures to ensure the safety and security of the Kuki-Zo people, addressing the systemic injustices against the Kuki-Zo people, and expediting a political solution for the ongoing crisis. 

In a joint statement, several Meitei civil society organisations insisted that the “root cause of the Manipur crisis is the nefarious trifecta of illegal immigration, poppy plantations for illicit drug trade and armed Chin Kuki militancy”. 

The Meitei groups appealed to the Centre and the State government to bring justice back to Manipur, demanding “immediate and proactive interventions” from the authorities concerned to end the violence in the State. The Meitei outfits also submitted a book to the Union government, published by them, on the violence upon their people in Manipur and what they believe to be the root causes of the crisis.

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