Months of increasingly violent ethnic clashes have put northeast India on edge

Months of escalating ethnic violence in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, which resulted in 130 deaths, have created a political battleground and evoked concerns about a potential spill-over to other regions.

Background: Ethnic clashes between the minority Kuki and majority Meitei communities in Manipur intensified after a court decision granting Meiteis “tribal status,” which provides the group with economic benefits and job quotas.
* The clashes, which began in early May, have resulted in the loss of about 130 lives and have led to the destruction of homes, shops, churches, and other buildings.
* Thousands have been displaced due to regular attacks, forcing people of both communities to seek safety in secure locations or refugee camps.

Government Response: The Indian government has deployed thousands of armed forces, including soldiers from the Indian Army, to manage the situation.
* Internet services have been shut down in the past two months and schools will remain closed until at least July 8th.
* Despite these measures, residents and political figures, including opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, accuse the government of not doing enough to restore peace and improve living conditions for displaced people.

Impact on Civilians: Locals have reported constant violent incidents, which have led to widespread displacement and destruction of property.
* Villages have been completely razed to the ground; a 22-year-old student, Sofia Nongmaithem, recounted her home being burnt down during an attack.
* Defense volunteers on both sides have guarded their territories and claim they will continue fighting until peace returns.

Calls for Peace: There are increasing appeals and efforts for a nonviolent resolution.
* Local women have organized peace marches and Rahul Gandhi has implored the government to improve basic amenities in refugee camps and called for an end to hostilities.
* Despite the ongoing violence, Himanta Biswa Sarma, a senior leader of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, has claimed that the situation is improving.

View original article on NPR

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