Return to inclusive Manipuri identity seems impossible

A year has passed since the ethnic clashes broke out between the Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur. The regional, ethnic, and religious faultlines that developed following a high court order in favour of the inclusion of the Meiteis in the state’s scheduled tribes list in March last year (the court has since deleted that paragraph from its order) and subsequent Kuki mobilisations against it, have deepened to the extent that a return to an inclusive Manipuri identity seems impossible in the near future. The state continues to be roiled by violence and there seems to be no ending to this conflict. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and hundreds have lost their lives.

The elections to the two Lok Sabha constituencies in Manipur reflected the faultlines, and the results are most likely to reaffirm the great divide between the Meiteis, the majority community residing in the Imphal valley, and the Kukis, who live in the hills. The violence has left thousands homeless and seen large-scale destruction of properties, accompanied by major looting of state armouries. The violence has become sporadic, but arms are available in plenty. The Kuki community has no access to state capital Imphal. This is causing immense trouble to the Kukis. The Manipur government, in which Meiteis have majority both in the state cabinet and the civil administration, has been accused of being biased against the Kukis. The central government has also failed to effectively deal with Manipur. Hopefully, when the new government is formed, it will work to end the civil war and restore much-needed peace in Manipur.