A curfew has been imposed in the Indian state of Manipur to prevent clashes between tribal and non-tribal groups, and authorities have ordered security forces to “shoot at sight” protesters.
According to the British news agency Reuters, in order to stop the violence, the governor of the state has given powers to local magistrates through an order that “if the protesters do not follow the warning and the security forces fail, they can open fire.”
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Manipur Chief Minister N. Byron Singh and deployed Federal Rapid Action Force troops to maintain peace in the state.
Indian Army officials told the media that 9,000 people were moved to government and military shelters after protesters torched shops, houses, and hotels, among other buildings.
Mobile internet service has been suspended in the state of Manipur for the last five days.
The Chief Minister of Manipur has appealed to the people to establish peace. The police have not yet said how many people were killed or injured in the wave of violence.
A few days ago, the clash started when the student organisation ‘All Tribal Students Union Manipur’ in Charachand district demanded the non-tribal Maitii community be transferred to local tribes (Scheduled Tribe).
If the Meitei community’s demand for special status is accepted, they can get farming on forest land, health and education facilities, and bank loans at low interest rates. Apart from this, they can also get quotas in government jobs.
Tribal people say the Meitei community is already prosperous, and giving them more rights would be unfair.
Charachand District Magistrate Sharath Chandra said, “The situation is bad, but the community leaders are being persuaded to negotiate.”
The majority of the Meitei community are Hindus, while the majority of the opposing Kuki and other tribes are Christians. The total population of Manipur state is 3.5 lakh, and 40% of it consists of tribals.