The ethnic clashes between communities have yet again come to rock the North-East. Manipur witnessed unrest recently which resulted in around 60 people getting killed and thousands getting displaced. Article 355 was invoked and the Army and paramilitary forces were deployed to manage the crisis.

Although the situation has been brought under control, the situation remains hostile in a State that has been divided along ethnic lines. Violence in the State broke out on May 3 when the tribal groups including the Kuki and the Naga clashed with the Meitei community over the possible extension of Scheduled Tribes status for the latter. The Kuki and Naga tribes inhabit the hilly terrains while the Meiteis, who account for half of the population of the State, live in the relatively well-off and urbanised valley region. The development disparity has been a source of discord between the communities.

The escalation in violence in Manipur has its origins in decade-old demand by the Meitei community for the ST tag. A recent Manipur High Court order directing the State to recommend to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry, an ST status for the community has been met with protests by the tribes. While the tribal groups claim that this will tip the scales in favour of Meities who dominate the State legislature and are comparatively prosperous, Meitei activists lament that they have been sidelined to the Imphal valley, which occupies just one-tenth the State’s geographical area. The ST status would allow them to buy land in the hills. Also, they would get quotas in education and reservation in government jobs. Things have reached a stalemate with neither of the communities willing to budge. The Centre needs to come up with a solution to the issue.