The ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur is a complex issue with no easy solutions. However, that does not mean that efforts should not be made to help end the violence and promote peace and reconciliation between the Meitei and Kuki communities. Reports of both communities rejecting the peace committee set up by the union government following the union Home Minister’s visit clearly indicate that the ethnic conflict is bigger than meets the eye. The three major communities of Manipur – Meitei, Naga and Kuki – have a long history of distrust and suspicion. The violence that is happening right now is the result of a long history of misgivings between the two communities involved. It is fortunate but surprising how the Nagas are not involved in the conflict given the history of violence in Manipur.
With the central armed forces and paramilitary in operation, it is hoped that normalcy will be restored sooner than later. However, rebuilding lives after the violence that has engulfed the state for more than a month now is going to take ages and a lot of conscious effort from all concerned. Yet, the mutual distrust the communities share between them, coupled with their respective political aspirations, might not help. In a way, keeping the three communities separately under different administrations might be a more viable option although it is easier said than done.
Nonetheless, in order to restore peace and normalcy, efforts must be made to bring about a ceasefire of sorts between the two communities in conflict. This will allow for a cooling-off period and create an opportunity for dialogue. Meanwhile, a thorough and unbiased investigation into the causes of the violence is also essential. This will help to identify the root causes of the conflict and to develop strategies for addressing them.
Once the violence has stopped, it is important to begin the process of reconciliation. This will involve building trust and understanding between the two communities. It will also involve addressing the underlying issues that led to the violence in the first place. This, however, will require both communities to shed the mutual distrust they have for each other.
Economic development can also help to promote peace and stability in Manipur. By providing jobs and opportunities for both communities, economic development can help to reduce tensions and create a sense of shared prosperity. Education is also important for promoting peace and understanding in the long term. By teaching children about the different cultures and traditions of Manipur, education can help to break down stereotypes and build bridges between the two communities. Here, the majority Meitei community must be more accommodative and open to embracing the tribal Kuki and Naga communities. However, economic development and education – as important as they are – will not work so long as the root causes of the conflict are not addressed.
Although many suggestions can be made to end the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur, there is no single solution that will work for everyone. However, by working together, the Meitei and Kuki communities can create a brighter future for themselves and for their children if they so desire.