Manipur Violence: How Central and State BJP Government has fuelled Manipur Conflict

Manipur Violence

Manipur Violence: On May 3rd, 2023, ethnic conflict began in India’s north-eastern state of Manipur in between the Meitei people, the majority of whom dwell in the Imphal Valley, against the Kuki tribe of the neighbouring hills. At least 207 people have been murdered in the violence, 1108 others have been injured, and hundreds are missing. Around 4500 plus residences have been burned, more than 350 religious places, including temples and churches, were destroyed, and over seventy thousand people have been forced from their place of residence. These are official numbers; unofficial numbers are far higher. It is strange that in today’s India, when the BJP administration has used every possible method to crush peaceful protests, whether they be farmers protests, anti CAA protests, or wrestlers’ protests, then why is this government taking so long to control this bloodshed in Manipur? Let’s look at how the state and central BJP governments in Manipur are contributing to the ongoing cycle of revenge, rape, and retribution.

Background of the Violence

The rise of violence in Manipur stems from the dominant Meitei community’s almost 10-year-old desire for Scheduled Tribe status. The immediate cause of the violence, however, is a Manipur High Court decision directing the state administration to submit a report on Scheduled Tribe designation for the community to the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry by May 29th. As Kuki tribe claims, BJP Chief Minister N Biren Singh, a Meitei, had already begun the war on drugs conducted by the Meitei led administration against the Kuki and Naga tribes, on May 3rd, people of the Kuki and Naga tribes launched a protest in opposition to the decision because factor that the state government will undoubtedly favour the Meitei community. On May 4th, three women from Manipur’s Erup Kangpopki village dragged from the houses, were stripped naked, paraded before a crowd of hundreds of men, and then reportedly gangraped. According to local media and survivors’ statements, this incident occurred following false claims that a Meitei woman had been raped by Kuki militants in the Churachandpur region, triggering a fatal cycle of retaliation violence on Kuki tribal women. The rest of India only became aware of this horrible event 70 days later, when some footage of the horror surfaced on social media.

How State BJP Government is Responsible for Manipur Violence

The BJP controls the state government of Manipur, which is led by Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who is also Meitei member. According to the Kuki community, despite accounting for 53% of the population, the Meitei group controls 40 of the 60 seats in the regional parliament and Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s current attack on poppy production for the heroin trafficking has deliberately targeted Kuki regions, attempting to force out Kuki tribes. The state BJP administration, which is dominated by the Meitei group, has constantly attempted to implement policies that discriminate against Kuki community, such as forceful evictions that endanger the security of their property along with attempts to portray these individuals as illegal immigrants. It is clearly visible that the growing conflicts between the two communities has been promoted by the state BJP government for their personal agenda.

The Kuki community also claims that the state government has been involved in the acts of violence against the Kuki minority by permitting Meitei groups to operate with freedom and police under state government have also been accused of refusing to provide assistance to members of the Kuki community who have been attacked, as well as failing to investigate claims of rape, torture, and assaults committed against the Kuki community. What is even more concerning is that the Chief Minister, N Biren Singh, casually accepted that there were hundreds of such events in the conflict torn northeastern state, justifying the lack of punishment against the culprits.

How Central BJP Government is Responsible for Manipur Violence

After being silent on the situation for several months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi only broke his silence over the violence in Manipur after seeing a disturbing and violent video of a group of men attacking a nude woman in broad daylight. When these videos of lynchings went viral online, all Indians’ eyes filled with sadness upon seeing the footage of the May 4th tragedy. The saddest part is that Prime Minister Modi, as usual, came up with a way to use the issue as a political tool for attacking the opposition by pointing his concern at how the opposition has also fails to confront violent crimes against women in their respective states. Prime Minister Modi also refused to address the broader conflict or mention those who fell victim in the violence.

Manipur has experienced suffering, disturbing the unity of society, therefore both communities must come together to restore Manipur’s peace, harmony, and affection. Many Indians are wondering why it has taken months for Prime Minister Modi to openly react on Manipur. It is also worth noting that during congress party rule in other states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh, when even there were minor political upheavals, state BJP in opposition and central BJP leaders made every effort to dissolve local governments and impose governors’ rule in those states, then why Modi led government is resisting calls from tribal leaders to impose direct rule despite this massive bloodshed. In Manipur, there may be another angle to the BJP’s backing for violence, since some allege that the most of the Kuki community members are Christians while most of the Meitei community members are Hindus. If this is true then it is a clear violation of Article 15 (1) of Indian Contribution which says that the “Indian Constitution prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth”. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution also provides “equality before the law or equal protection within the territory of India and prohibits the unreasonable discrimination between persons”. Is respect for women reserved exclusively for speeches? It is clear that the Modi led BJP has the authority to put an end to this violence, but it has chosen to escalate it and push more people to flee their homes.

Women as a Political Tool, Impunity to Sinners, and Apathy of Centre

Throughout history, our culture, Vedas, and Puranas have taught us to respect and treat women as goddesses, no matter their background, religion, or faith. But today’s India is markedly different, with the governing party applauding criminals and rapists while penalizing women. Every day, we read headlines about rapes, murders, even dowry cases in India, and as soon as the last incident of violence against women disappears from the media, another one emerges. According to the National Crime Records Bureau research 2021, around 87 rape incidents are recorded each day in India, and these are just the registered cases. Last year, many horrific episodes of rape and murders have disturbed everyone; but the present government has used these incidents to polarize the public, treating women as a political instrument. Media controlled by the ruling government only reported wrong against women when there was a community angle to it. Godi media only publicized the incident when the perpetrators were from minority groups, primarily Muslims, in order to seize the chance to create a Hindu Muslim division in society and increase TRP.

Everyone is well aware that, the BJP’s actual attitude toward women is rooted in communally based politics, where women are viewed as resources to be used for sexual exploitation rather than as unique human beings with rights. The issue has gotten worse because the Prime Minister and other well-known BJP officials have remained silent about these crimes. The Modi government’s cabinet has eleven female ministers; not a single word has been said by these eleven on the injustices that women face in society. Most of the times, the accused are allies or members of the ruling BJP, and as a result of pressure from the party’s leaders, law enforcement officials sometimes take time to prosecuting the suspected and even go beyond the way to protect them. It not only saves the criminals, but also encourages them since they believe their superiors are supporting them. Godi Media also exposes wrong against women only when it has a communal perspective, in order to create hatred in society and divert attention away from the primary issues. Prime Minister Modi has also chosen to remain silent on the media’s stance, and in doing so, he is giving these media outlets greater confidence to propagate hate speech in the name of religion.

Congress for Better Hope

Even after eight months of bloodshed, the Prime Minister has yet to visit Manipur. Does he not believe that the State is a part of India? India is the home of both the Kuki and Meitei people. The Kuki and Meitei communities needs to understand that “United we stand, divided we fall”, therefore we must rise above the BJP’s strategy of division and hatred. Congress has pledged to bring about peace in the valley because it recognizes the suffering, hurt, and loss that the people of both communities experienced. With respect to violence against women, it’s necessary that all citizens understand the BJP’s ideology and stop allowing them to treat women like an object. The Indian National Congress has been fighting for a safe environment for every single daughter of India. If you want to bring peace in Manipur, destroy this hate and divide politics, strengthen the country and provide a safe haven for our fellow citizens, join Rahul Gandhi and raise your voice with the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.