Over 14,000 children displaced after Manipur civil strife, India’s government says

Government says 4,099 children displaced in Churachandpur district where violence first erupted

Namita Singh
Thursday 03 August 2023 11:18 BST
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More than 14,000 children have been displaced in India’s northeast state of Manipur ever since ethnic violence rocked the region three months ago, India’s federal government has said.

Of the total displaced children, over 93 per cent have been admitted to the nearest school, the country’s education ministry told the Indian parliament on Wednesday.

So far, over 180 people have been killed in the clashes that first began on 3 May, after members of a number of hill tribes including the Kuki, who enjoy protected status as minorities, protested against plans to extend that status to the Meitei community, who represent around 53 per cent of Manipur’s population.

Doing so would have given Meiteis access to the same benefits and quotas in government jobs and education as the minority tribes.

Demonstrations by the Kukis led to clashes in the village of Churachandpur, some 40 miles (63km) from Imphal, at the beginning of May, before spreading out across the state in a wave of violence that has shocked the nation.

According to the data released by the ministry on Wednesday, about 4,099 students were displaced in Churachandpur district, which was the epicentre of the ethnic violence. This was followed by the displacement of 2,822 children in Kangpokpi, another district with the dominant Kuki population and 2,063 in Bishnupur district, which shares a border with Churachandpur.

About 50,000 people have been displaced and are now living in 349 relief camps across the state.

Amid the breakdown of law and order in the state, the Indian parliament has also so far failed to discuss the situation, with both the upper and lower houses being repeatedly adjourned during the parliament’s ongoing Monsoon session.

The deadlock comes as the opposition remains firm on its demand for discussion of the issue and a statement from prime minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party is also in power in Manipur.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India was told that a total 6,523 preliminary chargesheets were filed, while 252 people were arrested in these cases, reported The Indian Express.

The apex court came down heavily on the state’s authorities and lashed out at the “complete breakdown” of law and order and constitutional machinery in Manipur.

The top court also summoned the state’s top police official, noting that authorities had “lost control over the situation”.

Meanwhile, a fresh round of violence hit the state, with at least 17 injured in Bishnupur district after Indian army and Rapid Action Force personnel fired teargas shells. The clashes come as a state high court order stalled the mass burial of 35 people from the Kuki community who were killed in violence since it began in May.

Tension escalated as thousands of locals came out on the street to block the movement of security forces and tried to cross the barricade put up by military personnel to be able to go to the burial site, reported news agency Press Trust of India.

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