Title: Deadly Conflict in Manipur State Leaves Prime Minister Modi Struggling to Maintain Control
In India’s Manipur state, a violent conflict has plagued the Meitei community and the Kuki tribals for nearly three months, resulting in over 180 deaths and severe damage to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strongman image. The conflict, sparked by an order to extend economic benefits to the Meiteis, has escalated into a devastating standoff. The government’s response, the biased role of the police, accusations of a breakdown in state administration, and Modi’s delayed reaction have added fuel to the fire.
Rival gunmen from the Meitei community and Kuki tribals have entrenched themselves in bunkers, engaging in relentless exchanges of fire using assault weapons, sniper rifles, and pistols. As a result, tens of thousands of people have been displaced, villages have been set ablaze, and reports of sexual assault against women have emerged. Such atrocities have intensified tensions and aggravated the crisis.
Critics have accused the state government and police of displaying bias during the conflict. Army troops have been ordered to maintain peace without disarming the fighters, further complicating the situation. Historian Ramachandra Guha has spoken out against these developments, describing the state administration as having experienced a “complete breakdown.” Guha also criticized Modi’s handling of the crisis.
The Kuki tribals, constituting one-third of the Meitei population, have suffered the brunt of the violence, accounting for two-thirds of the casualties. Modi, addressing the conflict after two months, promised tough action and condemned the assault on Kuki women. However, his delayed response has drawn criticism both domestically and internationally.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) heads the state government and now faces a no-confidence motion in the federal parliament due to the ongoing violence. The opposition is expected to question Modi’s support for Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh, a Meitei who leads the BJP state government. Critics argue that this support exacerbates the conflict and hampers efforts to find a peaceful resolution.
Disparity in Resources
The death toll, with 113 Kukis and 62 Meiteis, highlights the disproportionate violence faced by the Kuki community. The Meiteis possess a significant number of stolen weapons from the state’s armoury, tilting the balance of power in their favor. Kuki civil society groups attribute the conflict to the Meiteis’ desire to dominate Kuki land and their demand for a separate state within India.
A Prolonged Struggle
In response to the Kuki tribals’ demand for a separate state, Meitei organizations have vowed to continue fighting until the Kukis withdraw their demand. This ongoing conflict has not only cost numerous lives but has also left the entire state in a state of fear and uncertainty.
As the violent conflict between the Meitei community and Kuki tribals continues to escalate in Manipur state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government face significant challenges. The mounting death toll, displacement of thousands, accusations of bias, and a breakdown in state administration have all posed considerable obstacles for Modi’s administration. It remains to be seen how the government will address these issues and work towards finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
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