On May 4th, a total public curfew was imposed in eight districts of Manipur, and mobile internet services were suspended for five days amidst ongoing tensions in the Churachandpur district. A mob also vandalized houses in the violence-hit district, following protests against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government’s survey of reserved and protected forest areas and wetlands in the state.
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, which led the protests, has objected to the government’s moves to include the majority Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. The Meiteis make up 53 percent of Manipur’s population and claim to be facing difficulty due to large-scale illegal immigration by Myanmarese and Bangladeshis.
The situation turned violent when scores of agitated mobs set fire to the venue where Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh was scheduled to inaugurate a facility, vandalized government properties, and caused widespread arson. The forum said in a statement that it has been compelled to carry out a non-cooperation movement against the state government and obstruct official programs.
To maintain law and order, the district administration has imposed a total public curfew in Churachandpur, prohibiting the movement of any person outside their respective residences, and the assembly of five or more persons that could be deemed unlawful. The order also prohibits the carrying of sticks, stones, firearms without a valid license, weapons, or objects that can be used as offensive weapons, in the whole jurisdiction of Bishnupur district.
Mobile internet services have been snapped in a bid to prevent the spread of rumors and misinformation. The shutdown has impacted the communication channels of the locals, causing inconvenience to the residents.
Thousands of tribals turned up at a ‘Solidarity March’ called by a students’ body in all the ten hill districts of the state on May 4th to oppose the government’s moves. The situation remains tense, and the authorities are closely monitoring the situation to prevent any further escalation of violence.
The ongoing tribal protests against the inclusion of the Meitei community in the ST category have led to widespread violence and vandalism in Manipur’s Churachandpur district. The government has imposed a total public curfew and snapped mobile internet services to prevent the situation from escalating. The authorities have urged the people to maintain calm and cooperate with the security forces to restore normalcy in the region.