Manipur Mayhem

he issue of Indian-occupied Kashmir and Manipur should be seen with the same lens. Both are primarily paying the price of being led by an ultra-nationalist BJP government whose core policy is to exploit ethnicity and religion to gain political mileage.

By M. Arslan Qadeer | September 2023

The crisis of Manipur mirrors the BJP’s covert agenda to persecute India’s religious minorities, stripping them of their constitutional rights and eventually turning them into non-entities. The situation of Manipur is much more complex in reality than just the pouring in of illegal immigrants from neighboring Myanmar, the poppy cultivation by the hill tribes, or the issue of awarding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the dominant Meitei Community inhabiting the central Imphal valley, being dubbed as something not acceptable to Nagas and Kukis inhabiting the northern and southern hilly belt of Manipur bordering Myanmar.

‘Scheduled Tribes’ and ‘Scheduled Castes’ are officially designated groups of people among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India. The terms are recognized in the constitution of India, and the groups are designated in one or other categories. For much of the British rule in the Indian Subcontinent, they were known as the ‘Depressed Classes.’ The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were given reservation status, guaranteeing political representation, preference in promotion, quota in universities, free and stipended education, scholarships, banking services, and various government schemes, and the constitution lays down the general principles of positive discrimination for SCs and STs.

While the State of Manipur is flaming intensely in what is proving to be the worst communal catastrophe ever in the region’s history, the Modi government’s premeditated silence veils a severe dissonance. Looking closely into the matter reveals that it is neither the case of awarding ‘Scheduled Tribal (ST) Status to a particular community (Meitei, in this case) nor does it have to do anything with poppy cultivation, which remained the mainstay of the entire region since centuries.

The erstwhile practice of subversion and robbing communities of their legitimate constitutional statuses is evident in this case; the hands that seem to be involved in this are the same that took the separate special status of the Indian Occupied J&K on 5 August 2019, aimed at not only to marginalize but disenfranchise the entire community whose special status was guaranteed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). As the BJP rules in Manipur, fascist forces are becoming active in recent violence. The burning of churches and targeting religious sites have religious motivations behind them, besides the issue being social and ethnic. Fuelled by Hindutva, the Modi government, characterized by its religious bigotry, intolerance, fanaticism, and downright prejudice, applied the same formula to change the demographic status of the tribal communities of Manipur.

In Indian Occupied J&K, Articles 35A and 370 of the Indian Constitution were abrogated that prohibited outsiders from purchasing property and citizenship, thus nullifying the claim of Kashmiri Muslims. The same restriction exists under Article 371C in Manipur tribal areas. The only difference is that in the former, it is the Muslim community being targeted. In contrast, in the latter, the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Kuki tribes is facing the brunt of the same radical mindset.

Manipur is a North East Indian state bordering Myanmar to its East and South. It consists of the Imphal Valley and the surrounding hills populated by hill tribes. The Imphal Valley in the center constitutes around 10% of the geographical area, with 57% of the population predominantly Meitei, who are majority Hindus. The surrounding hills constitute 90% of the state’s geographical area, with 43% of the population belonging to 34 tribal groups broadly characterized as Nagas and Kukis inhabiting the northern and southern districts, respectively. The hill tribes are predominantly Christians. The said hill region bordering Myanmar came to be administered by the British administrators directly following the Kuki Rebellion of 1917-1919 without the involvement of Meitei State. The British gave it Special Protection.

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3 thoughts on “Manipur Mayhem

  • September 2, 2023 at 11:55 pm

    Good article Arslan .
    Keep it up

  • September 3, 2023 at 7:56 am

    Such a lovely and worthwhile article. This is not the first time that Arslan has touched upon a great subject but usually, his articles leave behind a sensible missive. I always pray and wish that you could write such articles with strength, resilience, and pace. Stay blessed and healthy.

  • September 8, 2023 at 7:36 pm

    Excellent exposure of so called Democratic Rule in India.

    Glaring fault lines of discrimination are highlighted.

    A Bold , Brave expression of Truth 👍