(CTN NEWS) – In the quietude of India’s northeastern state of Manipur, a distressing video emerged, igniting more than just whispers of dissent among the already tormented tribal minorities.
The video, showcasing a man set ablaze, became a grim testament to the escalating ethno-political tensions in the region.
As the flames danced, cries for justice resonated through the Kuki community, bringing to light the simmering discord that has plagued Manipur for over five months since violent ethnic clashes took a deadly turn, claiming at least 180 lives.
Authorities in Manipur, alarmed and pressed by the burgeoning demands for justice, initiated an investigation into the gruesome incident, believed to have occurred on May 4. The federal police, taking the reins, dove headlong into a cauldron of historical and recent grievances.
The spark for the violent clashes was struck on May 3, with the majority Meitei ethnic group and the minority Kuki tribals locking horns over governmental allocations, particularly employment and education quotas.
Despite the swift deployment of a substantial additional security force, the spectre of violence lingered, casting a long shadow over the promise of tranquility.
The sporadic outbursts of violence posed a rare security challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, particularly in a state helmed by his Bharatiya Janata Party.
The haunting seven-second video that found its way to social media, and later verified by state police, encapsulated the horror of the ongoing conflict.
It portrayed a man, identified as 37-year-old Laldinthanga Khongsai of the Kuki community, lying near barbed wire with his body engulfed in flames amidst a backdrop of chilling voices and gunshots.
The circumstances surrounding whether Khongsai was alive during the filming remain shrouded in uncertainty.
Ethnic Strife in Manipur: May 4 Violence and Its Lingering Shadows
The grim details unraveled further as Kuldiep Singh, the state’s security advisor, revealed that Khongsai met his tragic end on May 4, during a violent face-off where armed members from both communities clashed.
The turmoil of that day didn’t end with Khongsai; two tribal women bore the brunt of the mob’s wrath through sexual assault.
With a body yet unclaimed and a community reeling from the trauma, the Central Bureau of Investigation took charge of the case, echoing the profound desperation for justice among the Kukis.
The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, representing various tribal factions in Manipur, decried the incident as an “ethnic cleansing campaign” against the Kuki-Zo community by the Meiteis, urging for a separate administrative setup.
The demographics elucidate a broader narrative: Meiteis constitute 53% of Manipur’s populace, while the Kukis form a 16% minority. Government data disclosed a grim tally of casualties on both sides.
The precariousness of the situation in Manipur remains palpable, the cries for justice reverberate through the hills and valleys, and the concerns over festering tensions continue to cast a dark cloud over the region’s socio-political landscape.
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