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Manipur Burning: Fears about the state deteriorating condition growing, on the verge of civil conflict


A retired lieutenant general in the Indian army lamented the unrest in his home state of Manipur, a violent region in the northeast of the nation, last week.


As of now, the state is "stateless," as L Nishikanta Singh tweeted. "Life and property can be destroyed anytime by anyone, just like in Libya, Lebanon, Nigeria, Syria, etc."


Beginning of the Civil war 


Manipur is on the verge of a civil war, according to many, nearly two months after it was shaken by ethnic violence. Over 100 people have died and over 400 have been injured in fights between the Kuki and Meitei communities, which make up the majority. In about 350 sites, nearly 60,000 people who had been displaced had sought refuge.


A total of 40,000 security personnel, including police, paramilitaries, and army soldiers, are attempting to stop the violence. Since the violence started, only 25% of the more than 4,000 guns that mobs stole from police armouries have been voluntarily surrendered back.


Both sides of the conflict have raised their level of mistrust and accuse the security forces of being biassed. Mobs have demolished or damaged more than 200 churches and 17 temples. Local legislators' and ministers' homes have been attacked and set on fire. 


Normal life has been severely hampered by a nighttime curfew that is still in effect in the majority of the 16 districts, closed schools, and suspended internet services. Protesters have stopped a major route used to transport supplies. Arson and occasional killings occur. A muted response has been given to the federal government's request for a peace council to mediate a cease-fire.


According to Northeast India Women Initiative for Peace's Binalakshmi Nepram, this is the worst period in Manipur's history. "Homes were burned in two days [after the unrest started], and people were lynched, burned, and tortured. In Manipur's recent history, there has never been violence of this magnitude. 


There are 45 million people living in eight states in the troubled and secluded north-east of India, representing more than 400 different communities. It has taken years for more than a dozen peace negotiations to mediate between various parties in the area. Manipur, which is nestled along the Myanmar border, has experienced ethnic conflict before.


Future conundrum in State 


The state is immensely diverse—and deeply divided—having 33 ethnic tribes. About 40 insurgent factions reside there. In opposition to contentious anti-insurgency laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the security forces the right to search and seize property, Meitei, Naga, and Kuki insurgents have conducted protracted armed campaigns, frequently targeting Indian security forces. Militias from the Meitei, Naga, and Kuki have also engaged in conflict over divergent national goals.


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