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The conflict in Manipur

Tanuja Vartak


An ethnic clash erupted on 3 May 2023 in India's north-eastern state of Manipur between the Meitei people, a majority that lives in the Imphal Valley, and the tribal community from the surrounding hills, including the Kuki and Zo people.


The discussion opened up around the initial fundamental questions surrounding the conflict:

  1. Why are the Kuki's revolting? Why are they concerned about the other community getting the status of ST?

  2. Why do the Meitei want tribal status in the first place and thus

  3. Why does anyone want caste reservation?


The conflict was presented through four main lenses of- 1. Demography 2.Geopolitics 3.The demands of the Meitei and 4.Loss of opportunities for the minorities.

A majority of the news articles state that the demand for tribal status by the Meitei is because they want to preserve their culture - through the acquisition of land, the main question raised in the discussion was- How can purchasing power of land or granting land rights translate to the preservation of a communities’ culture.

One of the suggestions from the faculty was to look at the livelihood data of the natives in Manipur - unemployment is at an all time high and several people are turning to the forests as a source of wealth generator. Buying forest lands is an investment that the natives are looking at in the face of losing employment opportunities.


Further the idea of ‘mass hysteria’ was taken up and how in the current scenario as well as in general, the ‘takeover of one community by another’ is spread through society leading to communal differences. False narratives are formed through this hysteria against the minority which have no statistics or data to support them. The students spoke up about their personal experiences and other narratives of mass hysteria in their own homes or schools where messages circulated on Whatsapp groups often direct one to alienate and dissociate from the other community who they fear.


“The communities that we currently fear are under tremendous oppression by the majority” stated Prasad Shetty when discussing the fear-mongering among communities and mass hysteria.

There is a fear of lack of resources when you think you will be outnumbered- which results in a community undertaking defensive methods of revolt and access to power.




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