The state is mainly made up of Meitei Hindus who live in a valley surrounded by hills. The population in the hills, on the other hand, consists mainly of Naga and Kuki Christian tribes. According to women’s activist Binalaxmi Nephram, “About 60% of Manipur’s population lives on 10% of its land in the plains. So land is a sensitive issue.”
Over the last few months, the tensions have been growing thicker. Meitei have been holding protests to prevent “outsiders” from other Indian states or countries from entering Manipur. BBC News reports schools were out for weeks during these demonstrations.
In August, the three bills–which World Watch Monitor cites “to save the culture, tradition, identity, and demographic structure of the indigenous people of the state”–passed. While the bills received acceptance from the Meitei, Naga, and Kuki tribes rejected it, saying it would “legalize the tribal peoples’ marginalization.”
In the last weeks, violent protests have broken out. Naga and Kuki tribes set fires to the homes of government officials, including some of the Kuki lawmakers and a minister because mobs believed they hadn’t protected the tribe’s rights and had failed to represent them in the Legislative Assembly.
No officials were killed, but 9 people–including two unknown burned victims–have been reported dead ,and 20 more were injured in the violent reactions.
Armed men also attacked tribal militant protestors. It’s assumed they were insurgent Meitei disguised as police. World Watch Monitor says this has added to suspicions that the state government and Meitei are working together to persecute the tribe people.
“The violence is deeply rooted in ethnic animosity between the Meitei and the predominantly-Christian minority tribal groups in Manipur,” it explains. “Observers foresee the unrest escalating into an ethnic and religious clash if the State government fails to handle the matter well.”
A curfew was enforced on August 31, and student groups held demonstrations on September 1 and September 2. Kuki associations in the U.S. also plan to hold a protest in front of the White House.
An NGO worker shared with World Watch Monitor, “Things are getting worse. If this tension continues, it will be trouble in the entire state, extending all the way to the Myanmar border.”
But prayers are stronger than that.
Pray for peace and understanding between the believers and non-believers. Pray that God will stop any persecution in the state.