Big mobilization in the town of Churachandpur, Manipur. Source: Telegraph India
On March 3rd there began a new stage of revolts in Manipur, after being known that the Meitei tribal group would be recognized as scheduled tribe in India. The Meitei are the majority of the population in the state of Manipur. The Indian State characterize the population according to the tribal groups, and thus establish limits for access to jobs, buying and selling of properties, and owning business. But the main point of the conflict in Manipur, is the eviction of the peasants from their own lands in order to concentrate this in a few hands of big landlords and big mining companies. On the other hand, local media often analyzes that main problem is between tribal groups or religions. The thing with the Meitei group is that local bosses who identify with this tribal group, will have economical privileges, and for example, will can acquire easily lands from the peasantry that are scheduled as Kuki or Naga, something that earlier was forbidden.
Then, the 3rd of March there was a big mobilization in Manipur. This mobilization was called for by a student organization, the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur [ATSUM]. Besides this one, also the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum [ITLF] call for bandh in order to make sure that lot of people attend the mobilization. The ITLF is an organization that serves to gather all the representatives of the minority tribes of Manipur, and same is the case with the ATSUM, that gather students from these tribes.
Then, the police and the Army were overwhelmed and established a curfew on the 4th of April, suspended the access to Internet and also deployed much more troops, anti-riots police, etc. After this, the Indian State also gave a clear directive to their repressive troops: shoot-at-sight when they detect a demonstrator. This is tightly linked with the militarization of the streets in Manipur. The updated numbers of troops in the region are: “Near of 10,000 soldiers of the Army and Assam Rifles [a paramilitary force controlled by the central government, with the task of counter-insurgency and controlling the borders of northeast India] have been deployed in the state.”. On the other hand, the Indian Army have been stating since days ago that the situation in Manipur is under control.
The revolts have exploded during this week, but the conflict was intensifying since long time ago. Since March there has been several clashes in the area, led by indigenous organizations. Also this ITLF called for a bandh on Friday 24th of April, and stated that “they would continue non-cooperation against the government until it nullifies the 1966 government order that declared tribal areas as protected/reserved forests”. This government order allow the eviction of the peasantry of many areas declared as protected, something that big mining companies and big landlords asked for and used to take these lands later.
During today there has been reports of back to normalcy in Imphal (Manipur’s capital). The official numbers just admit 30 dead people. However, local media reports an updated death toll: 55 dead people until today.
from The Red herald