In an effort to restore peace and quell the escalating violence, the Indian Army and paramilitary forces have been rushed to Manipur, as fresh clashes erupted on May 22 after a brief period of tenuous calm. The clashes, which occurred in the New Checkon area of the state capital Imphal, involved the Meitei and Kuki communities and were reportedly sparked by a dispute over space in a local market. As reports of arson emerged from the area, authorities swiftly declared a curfew to contain the situation.
Curfew relaxation time has been shortened from 5 am to 4 pm to the new time 5 am to 2 pm in Imphal West district. The curfew was shortened at 2 pm in Imphal West on May 22. The new shortened time for Imphal East is 5 am to 1 pm. In capital city Imphal it has been shortened at 1 pm.
Manipur has been grappling with a series of ethnic clashes linked to various contentious issues for over a month, straining communal harmony in the region. Earlier this month, violence erupted when tribals organized a solidarity march on May 3 to protest against the Meiteis' demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. The clashes, which persisted for more than a week, claimed the lives of over 70 people and resulted in the destruction of properties worth crores. As a consequence, thousands were compelled to abandon their homes, seeking refuge in government-organized camps.
The underlying tension leading up to the clashes was fueled by the eviction of Kuki villagers from reserve forest land, which triggered a series of smaller agitations. The Meiteis, who constitute 64 percent of the state's population, are only allocated 10 percent of the state's territory, as non-tribals are prohibited from purchasing land in designated hill areas. The Meiteis' inclusion in the ST category would grant them the right to buy land in the hills, a prospect that has greatly unsettled the tribal communities.
The Kukis have alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Manipur, under Chief Minister N Biren Singh, has systematically targeted them, seeking to displace them from the forests and their ancestral homes in the hills. They claim that the government's crackdown on drug trafficking was merely a pretense to justify their eviction.
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