Security forces in Manipur were on heightened alert on Friday as the state marked the one-year anniversary of violent clashes between the Meitei majority and the Kuki tribal community. The clashes, which erupted on May 3, 2023, have claimed the lives of at least 220 individuals, including both civilians and security personnel.

Across Manipur and at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, both Kuki-Zo and Meitei groups convened events to commemorate the anniversary and advocate for peace. Amidst prayers and vigils, calls were made for reconciliation and dialogue between the communities, with several organizations appealing to the central government for intervention.

According to The Hindu report, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum in Churachandpur held a solemn prayer service to honor those from their community who lost their lives in the violence. Meanwhile, civil society groups in the valley, including the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity, passed resolutions urging for a sustainable peace plan in the state.

In the hill districts, Kuki-Zo bodies organized events in Kangpokpi, accompanied by candlelight vigils to remember those who perished in the conflict. The underlying tensions between the valley-based Meitei and hills-based Kuki-Zo communities stem from a Manipur High Court order concerning the inclusion of Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list.

Over the past year, the conflict has resulted in over 221 deaths, numerous injuries, and the internal displacement of over 50,000 people. Additionally, dozens remain missing, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

In Delhi, the Kuki Students’ Organisation-Delhi NCR and Meitei civil society organizations staged protests at Jantar Mantar at separate times, demanding peace, accountability, and justice for Manipur’s people. Memorandums were submitted to the Prime Minister, highlighting the need for self-administration measures for the Kuki-Zo community and addressing systemic injustices.

As per the report, the KSO’s Delhi chapter also sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister, arguing that the community will need the Union government to set out measures for their self-administration, in order for the healing process to begin. Another memorandum, asserting the separate administration demand, was also sent to the Union government by the Zomi Council Steering Committee as well.

The Kuki Inpi Manipur presented a four-point agenda to the Centre, emphasizing the urgent return of bodies, ensuring the safety of the Kuki-Zo people, addressing systemic injustices, and expediting a political solution to the crisis.

In a joint statement, Meitei civil society organizations identified illegal immigration, illicit drug trade, and armed Chin Kuki militancy as the root causes of the Manipur crisis, emphasizing the need for comprehensive solutions to address these underlying issues.

MTNews Desk

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