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Ethnic voilence in Manipur

News: The ethnic violence that broke out in Manipur last week and it led to over 50 deaths, thousands have fled the State or are being evacuated.

Cause of the conflict:

  • Long-standing hill-valley identity divide.

    • On the one hand, the better-educated, Manipuri-speaking urban dwellers are living in State’s valley.

      • They comprise mainly Hindus and a significant share of Muslims.

      • It is not covered by forests. 

      • They have better access to good-quality drinking water, clean cooking fuel, and hospitals. 

      • They dominate public sector jobs, and the economy of the region is propped up by tourists, who, for the most part, stay in the valley. 

      • A higher share of industries, which provide better employment opportunities, can also be found in the valley.

    • On the other, the relatively less educated tribal people live in the rural areas.

      • A majority speak the Tangkhul, Thado, Kabui or the Mao language. 

      • About 90% of them are Christians. 

      • They live in the hilly regions, which are covered mostly by forests.

      • Thus they have relatively poor access to basic facilities. 

      • This population is poorly represented in public sector jobs. 

      • Very few of them work in industries and don’t earn a sufficient income from tourism.

  • Spark

    • Tribal solidarity march organised by the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM), which was supported by tribal bodies including the Naga Students Union Chandel, the Sadar Hills Tribal Union on Land and Forests, the Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong and the Tribal Churches Leaders Forum.

    • The rally was organised to protest the Manipur High Court’s direction to the State to pursue a recommendation to grant Scheduled Tribe status to the non-tribal Meitei-speaking people (officially called the Manipuri language).


Manipuri-speaking population

  • The population with Manipuri as its mother tongue dominates the valley districts Imphal West, Imphal East, Thoubal and Bishnupur.

  • It forms 85-99% of each district’s population. 

  • On the other hand, in the hill districts, the Manipuri-speaking population is less than 4%. 

  • Dominant languages in Hill district:

    • Tangkhul in Ukhrul district, 

    • Mao in Senapati district, 

    • Kabui in Tamenglong district, and 

    • Thado across most hill districts 



  • The grievance of the hill tribal people that giving ST status to the Meiteis will eat into their share of reservation seems to be borne out by data. 

  • By 2016, People from the hills held 35% of public sector jobs while they formed close to 43% of the population, whereas those from the valley held about 65% of such jobs. Also, close to 90% of foreign and 75% of domestic tourists restrict themselves to the valley.


Supreme court

SC remarked that the High Court of Manipur did not have the remit to direct the state government to recommend a tribe for the Scheduled Tribes List

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