Union home minister Amit Shah held a flurry of meetings after landing in Manipur. He has already met the state's ministers in Imphal and is likely to meet the Governor later at night. He is also expected to be briefed by the state's top security officials. Shah is likely to stay in the violence-hit state for the next few days and meet all stakeholders, including top army officials, civil society organisations and influential community leaders to finalise strategies to curb the ethnic violence. This is Shah's first visit to the northeastern state since the ethnic clashes broke out on May 3.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Sunday said nearly 40 armed terrorists involved in torching houses and firing at civilians have been killed by security forces. Also, at least 25 miscreants with arms, ammunition and grenades have been rounded up.
Posters come up welcoming Shah in Manipur
Experts blame the violence on a volatile mix of conflict over land rights, cultural dominance, and drug smuggling. Meiteis, who predominantly stay in Imphal valley, blame the Kuki tribals for the clashes, which according to them have their roots in poppy cultivation, militancy and opposition to the demand to award ST status to the Meiteis.
On the other hand, the Kukis, who mostly live in the hills, allege that the Meiteis are threatening their very existence by attempting to grab their land by seeking scheduled tribe status.
A decades-long ethnic insurgency
Currently, in tribal areas, land can be owned by tribals under customary law. Another reason for unease among Kukis is the BJP government's proposal to introduce a National Register of Citizens as tribes in other northeastern states and Myanmar often move back and forth across borders.
The entire situation is also compounded by the free availability of arms in the state - a legacy of the decades-long insurgency. A drive to remove Kukis from "encroached reserved forest lands", too, has not gone down well with the tribals who consider the forests to be their domain since time immemorial.
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