Manipur burns in hell - This is how it started!


Nagas, Kukis and other smaller tribes inhibit the hill areas of Manipur, India. One of the highly neglected North East states by the Central Government. Meiteis inhibit the valley (Imphal, the capital city). There's a small percentage of tribals who live in Imphal and a small percentage of Meiteis live in the hill areas as well.

To understand what's going on; we would have to go back a little into the history. I'll try to be brief as possible. I know, nobody wants to read a long article anyway.

What really started this incident?

Kukis have been demanding a districthood for a very long time now. They even went on to block the roads for 4 months which is a life line for daily goods to the valley from other states such as Bihar, UP, etc. The economic blockade threw the city into a total chaos then. The Manipur Govt was forced to sign an MOU and agreed to declare Sadar Hills as a districthood much to the dismay of the Nagas. You could read a little about this economic blockade here and how the Meitei people and the tribals living in Imphal valley were hurt:

How are Nagas involved?

Land, the root of all tribal problems. The Nagas claim that parts of the proposed 2 districts; Jiribam and Sadar Hills district belong to the Naga people and a chunk of the Naga ancestral land would be carved out and given away. This proposal is unacceptable to the Nagas and the protest in the form of economic blockade began under the banner of the United Naga Council (UNC) on October 30, 2016. The Manipur Govt arrested the UNC leader but the economic blockade continues.

Imphal, the capital city is not self sustainable

Sadly, that's the truth and daily supplies depend heavily on the goods brought in from other states and passes through the Naga and Kuki areas. With no alternative roads, prices in the valley began to shoot up as the roads are blocked. Economics 101. Petrol began to be sold at Rs 200 and the rest of the essential goods, I leave that to your imagination. The Imphal valley is once again thrown into a chaotic situation with limited stock and high prices.

Amidst all this, the Manipur Government decided to give 7 new districts instead of the proposed 2 districts. A lot of the Nagas are happy with this new decision. The Kukis had nothing to lose and so are the Meiteis except the few Meitei population who lives in the hills and will now come under the different districts. The Nagas decided to intensify the stir!! The tribal insurgency groups went to the extend of attacking army convoys killing a few Indian Army jawans.

Meiteis grew impatient and rightly so

Since a lot of tribal villages depend heavily on the goods and services from Imphal, the Meitei people in the valley decided to start a counter-economic blockade. A strategic move. They blocked all the commercial vehicles from Imphal to the Naga tribal villages as a form of protests against the Nagas' economic blockade. This adds fuel to the fire but with no results. The Kukis are happy. The Nagas are still upset. The Meitei people in the valley grew extremely impatient. The government failed to bring a viable solution. The meitei people instead of understanding the situation of the Nagas and help urge the Manipur Government to find a solution went against the Nagas and took matters into their own hands.

What's happening now?

The Meiteis intensified their counter economic blockade against the Nagas travelling between Imphal and their villages for Christmas holidays. Thousands from the villages come to Imphal for Christmas shopping during December every year and the Meitei protesters did what they did as shown in the national media today: Bombs are thrown at some strategic Naga leader houses, some churches are burned and shut down, tribal vehicles are torched and damaged, new clothes and all items including food items for Christmas are thrown about and burned, tribals are stranded, internet is shut down in most parts of Manipur, etc etc. It is the classic case; "an eye for an eye". Meitei people now targets every Nagas travelling and not just the commercial vehicles.

Where's the solution to the Manipur problem?

With the coming elections; the Chief Minister of Manipur, Ibobi Singh from the Congress party has been in power for the last 15 years. However, several prominent Congress leaders have resigned in the recent months citing one reason or the other (to join BJP stating the obvious). Money talks during elections. He is desperate to win another election.

Talks and compromise would be the only solution however, nobody seems to be interested in it; Nagas, Kukis or the Manipur Government. If the talks between these three parties come to an agreeable solution; the Nagas would withdraw their economic blockade and the rest falls into line.

Update: It has become evident that the UNC would not stop and would continue the protest through the Christmas and New Year which is the most important festival of the Nagas. Looks like a tough time awaits the people of Manipur. UNC has clarified time and again that their protest is against the Government of Manipur and not the Meitei people or the tribals living in the valley.

Update 2018: ​This issue stopped the moment elections got over sometime in March 2017 with promises from the new BJP Govt made to UNC.

Update 2023: 6 years went by and there's been no rollback of the land gifted away by Ibobi Govt nor do we see any protests from the Nagas anymore. Nagas under the Kuki districts have been subjected to harassment and that's becoming the ways of life.

PS: Please excuse any typo. I'm blogging this from my phone. 

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