(UnitedVoice.com) – Violence between ethnic groups in places like India or the Middle East is nothing new. Tribes often clash with one another in that region of the world. Oftentimes, the groups fighting are of different religions. That’s precisely what’s been happening in northeastern India over the last month and a half.
A conflict between two ethnic groups has left dozens of people dead and thousands more displaced.
What’s The Problem?
The conflict between the ethnic groups began on May 3. The Kuki and Naga tribes are minority groups that account for about 40% of the people in the state of Manipur. They live in the mountains and generally practice Christianity. The Meiteis, on the other hand, are in the majority and live in the valley. The members of the tribe are Hindu.
The Kukis and Nagas have long lived as a constitutionally recognized “Scheduled Tribe,” and that label has afforded them land-owning rights in the forests and hills. They also have a quota for government jobs and educational institutions. Basically, it’s supposed to ensure they are not discriminated against because of their ethnic status.
The Meiteis now want to be labeled a “Scheduled Tribe” as well. Journalist Arunabh Saikia told Al Jazeera that the group believes “they are marginalised [sic] as compared to the other mainstream communities.” If granted the status, they will receive the same benefits as the other tribes, even though they are in the majority.
The Kukis are protesting the possibility of the Meiteis being granted special status. About 50,000 Kukis and members of other tribal communities began protesting. That led to clashes with the Meiteis, who argue that the other tribal groups aren’t going to lose their benefits.
For nearly two months, the two groups have been fighting one another. At least 100 people have died in the attacks, and over 40,000 are now displaced. Clashes on June 14 killed nine people. Officials put a curfew in place, and the Indian military has been patrolling the streets. The internet service in the area was also suspended.
K Shivakanta Singh, a police official, told NBC News, “The situation remains volatile.” The federal authorities who were sent to the region are searching for illegal weapons. Neither the Meiteis nor the Kukis has agreed to join a commission that hopes to restore peace to the region. Amit Shah, the country’s home minister, announced the federal Rapid Action Force is now trying to restore peace in the area.
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