Manipur: Ethnic Divide Widens
Asia News Agency
Manipur will elect its new Assembly this month amid six months of violent ethnic clashes between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities. Little has changed in bridging the divide. Every few days there is a violent occurrence or a provocative move from partisans on either side of the conflict, which heightens tensions and widens the divide even further with nothing being done to reverse the course and bring back normalcy to areas most prone to violence.
Tribal Forum pursuing ‘self-rule’
The announcement, Wednesday, by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), which represents Kuki-Zo groups, that it is pursuing ‘self-rule’ with a separate ‘chief minister’ in districts dominated by the tribal community, writes The Hindu “points to yet another hardening of stances that has prolonged the conflict. Such a move, which has no legal basis, is also bound to enrage Meiteis, especially those whose key grievances include the special land ownership rights to tribals in the State’s hill districts. That the announcement came just a week after an Intelligence Bureau team and Ministry of Home Affairs officials held meetings in Churachandpur is an indication that the Union government is losing the plot in Manipur……A leadership change has been a key demand by the Kuki-Zo community representatives besides others….”
In the absence of the beginning of a dialogue process to rebuild an enduring peace, “even sporadic incidents have exacerbated the situation, making peace-building daunting. Unless the BJP’s central leadership changes its stubborn strategy of maintaining a discreet silence while using administrative ploys to contain the conflict, the festering in Manipur is bound to continue….”