Manipur Violence 2023: Story Behind the Horrify incident and Sexual Assault of women| Kukis meitie’s war

Manipur Violence 2023: Story Behind the Horrify incident and Sexual Assault of women| Kukis meitie’s war

Exploring Manipur Conflict in India: Geopolitical Insights Unveiled

Manipur Women incident viral video women paraded naked.


Manipur violence: May 3rd, the northeastern state of Manipur in India has been embroiled in a series of recurrent inter-ethnic conflicts, primarily involving the Meitei and Kuki ethnic communities. The aftermath of this violence has been devastating, resulting in a toll of more than 75 fatalities and the destruction of at least 1,700 structures, including homes and places of worship. Currently, over 35,000 individuals have been displaced from their residences, seeking refuge in 315 relief camps established within the state. Unfortunately, given the ongoing nature of these clashes, these numbers are expected to rise further.


In July 2023, a video went viral on Indian social media, depicting a distressing incident where two Kokki tribal women were forcibly dragged by a group of young men while in a vulnerable state. Additionally, a tribal organization leveled accusations against these women, implicating them in a case of social rape.


The Manipur Police have verified the authenticity of the video, confirming that the women were subjected to sexual assault on May 4th in the Thabol district of Manipur.


The police explained that they have filed cases against unidentified individuals, charging them with abduction, social rape, and murder. This incident raises significant questions:


What led to this event? Who exactly are the Kukis, Nagas, and Meitei? What are the underlying factors behind India’s strained relations with Myanmar? What narrative truly explains the Manipur violence? And why do the Abad tribes find themselves at odds with both each other and the Indian government? To address these queries, a thorough examination of Manipur’s history, geopolitical implications, and geography becomes essential.


Historical background of Manipur.

Manipur’s borders connect with Mizoram, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Myanmar. The population of Manipur in 2022/2023 has reached approximately 3.01 million, a notable increase from the 2011 census, which recorded 2.86 million, indicating a growth rate of 5.35 percent since 2011. The state is divided into districts: Senapati, Tamenglong, Churachandpur, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Imphal West, Imphal East, Ukhrul, and Chandel.



Manipur’s geography is unique; its central region resembles a plain, while the surrounding areas are encircled by mountains. The capital, Imphal, is positioned in the heart of the hills. The flat expanse amidst the mountains, known as the Imphal Valley, constitutes 10 percent of Manipur’s territory, while the remaining 90 percent is hilly terrain.


Within this diverse landscape, three major tribes inhabit the region. The Kukis and Nagas reside in the hills, while the Meitei tribe, adherents of Hinduism, live in the central Imphal Valley. Back in 1709, Manipur was referred to as Kangla, and it was home solely to the Meitei tribe, ruled by Pamheba. Pamheba, once affiliated with the Meitei tribe, eventually embraced Hinduism under the influence of a Hindu religious leader, adopting the name Ghareeb Nwaz. Consequently, Kangla Pak was renamed Manipur, and Hinduism was established as the state’s official religion. Pamheba, renowned for his compassion towards the disadvantaged, aspired to expand Manipur’s boundaries. Eastward lay Myanmar, then known as Burma, sharing similar hilly terrain with Manipur.


Pamheba initiated numerous campaigns to extend his kingdom’s borders into Burma, successfully incorporating Burma into his realm. Over time, the movement of Khannabadosh tribes led to a migration of settled Manipur’s population into Myanmar. Pamheba’s demise on December 13, 1751, paved the way for Burma to reclaim control, resulting in the annexation of various regions. By 1819, Burma had gained full authority over Manipur, albeit ensuing years witnessed prolonged conflict and turmoil. Disrupted by this unrest, the local populace began migrating to areas like Mizoram and Assam. These migrations are responsible for the presence of tribal descendants in these regions to this day.


British rule in Manipur

n 1924, King Ghambir Singh of Manipur sought British assistance to escape the oppressive rule of Burma. The British Think Tank identified Manipur as an ideal location and, recognizing their own interests, Britain agreed to provide support.



In February 1926, Raja Ghambir Singh, in collaboration with the British, successfully defeated the Burmese army, liberating Manipur from Burma’s oppressive and brutal regime. The time span from 1819 to 1826, when Manipur was under Chahey Tareet Control, remains etched in history as the “Dark Years” for Manipur.


British style of governance

The British employed two distinct approaches to administer regions. Firstly, they could allow the local ruler or king to retain authority while exerting indirect control through a Resident Advisor, constituting the Princely State system. Secondly, they could assume direct control over the entire territory.


In this manner, Manipur also came under British control as a Princely State. However, the British consistently managed the Hmar region due to its suitability for trade and political affairs. Governing the mountainous areas proved challenging for them. As a result, British rule prevailed over Manipur’s plains, while their influence struggled to extend into the hills. Neglecting the hill-dwelling population essentially laid the groundwork for Manipur’s present state of turmoil.


Beginning of tribal diversity and conflicts

The capital of Manipur, where the Meitei tribe settled, contrasted with the mountains inhabited by various small and large tribes. The British referred to these mountain-dwelling communities as “Kukis,” while in the neighboring Burma, they were known as “Chins.” In the opposite direction, the tribes were recognized as “Nagas.” As such, the population of Manipur comprised three primary tribes: Meiteis, Kukis, and Nagas.


The Kuki and Naga populations extended widely throughout the hills, and segments of these three tribes migrated to other states beyond Manipur. Notable differences emerged among these tribes. Their territories were delineated based on ancestral heritage, and control was established accordingly. For instance, the Kukis believed their origins traced back to Burma, whereas the Meitei tribe regarded themselves as indigenous to Manipur. However, due to limited historical documentation, many assumptions are drawn from a handful of events.


Effects of World War I on the state of Manipur

In 1914, with the onset of World War I, the British Crown conscripted a considerable number of individuals from Manipur into their military forces. While they aimed to recruit the Kukis as well, the Kukis chose not to participate. This decision triggered discontent among the British, leading to aggressive actions against the Kukis that inflicted significant suffering. This episode is now recognized as the Anglo-Kukis War.


Over time, the Kukis gradually began asserting their independence from British influence, but the British employed tactics such as engaging British-educated local religious leaders to alleviate tensions. This approach fostered improved relations between the Kukis and the British, ultimately resulting in an agreement to include British-appointed religious leaders within the Kuki community. Notably, a majority of Kukis adhere to Christianity, while the Meitei tribe follows the Hindu faith.


Mani Pura Constitution Act of 1947 and the Indian Government’s reaction

As World War II unfolded, Britain recognized the increasingly unsustainable nature of their presence in Manipur. They instigated social divisions among the tribes, fostering a belief that unity among these groups was unattainable. In 1947, the subjects under the Manipur ruler’s authority demanded the establishment of a republic by July 26. By August of the same year, British rule concluded. It’s crucial to note that British rule had varied implementations across different regions.


The agreements forged were based on the areas directly under British control. Territories falling under this category were to transition to Indian government administration, while principal states like Manipur would have their own governing bodies for internal matters, with defense, external affairs, and communication retained by the central government. Given Manipur’s princely status, the agreements were tailored to accommodate its unique position.


However, India did not accept the Manipur Constitution Act during that period. India’s spirit of resistance and the strategic significance of the region played contributing roles. Conversely, in 1949, the Indian government forcefully orchestrated the Indian merger.


Scheduled Tribe(ST)/Scheduled Castes (SC) categorization and tribal disputes

ST/SC The Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are officially recognized segments of society in India, representing some of the most socio-economically disadvantaged groups. These classifications are entrenched in the Constitution of India, segregating these communities into distinct categories. Throughout much of the British colonial era in the Indian subcontinent, they were referred to as the Depressed Classes.


The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes account for approximately 16.6% and 8.6% of India’s population, respectively, according to the 2011 census. The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950 encompasses 1,108 castes across 28 states listed in its First Schedule. Similarly, the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order of 1950 includes 744 tribes across 22 states in its First Schedule.


After India gained independence, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were granted Reservation status, entitling them to political representation, preferential promotions, reserved seats in universities, access to free and subsidized education, scholarships, banking services, and participation in various government initiatives. The Constitution establishes the fundamental principles of positive discrimination for SCs and STs, aiming to uplift and empower these marginalized groups.


During 1949, this status underwent a reversal. At that time, the public of Manipur voiced grievances about being unjustly categorized. They had been listed as a Schedule T, but this designation was later rescinded. Consequently, the Meitei tribe began protesting for the removal of this Schedule T, while the Kukis, who were officially in Schedule T, had been raising their voices in protest even prior to this, as they did not belong to this category.


In response, Manipur transitioned to a Chief Minister’s administration. Subsequently, in 1956, Manipur was declared a Union Territory. Over time, progressive reforms were implemented, culminating in Manipur being elevated to the status of a full-fledged Union Territory in 1971. It is noteworthy that Manipur was originally a princely state.


Land Reform Act and Manipur

In 1960, the Indian government introduced the Land Reform Act, which had significant implications. Under this act, individuals from the Imphal Valley were prohibited from purchasing land in the hills, whereas the hill-dwelling tribes were permitted to acquire land not only in the Imphal Valley but also in other regions. This policy aligned with the historical British partition plan, as the Indian government handled this situation in a similar manner.


Implementation of SC/ST categorization

In accordance with Article 342 of the Indian Constitution, the classification of individuals as Scheduled Tribes (STs) or otherwise is determined through a Presidential notification. To ascertain which groups qualify as Scheduled Tribes, a committee was established during the 1960s. This committee introduced a comprehensive assessment based on five key criteria: Primitive Traits, Distinctive Culture, Isolation, Backwardness, and Backwardness in Economic Conditions.


Using these criteria, the committee arrived at decisions regarding the inclusion or exclusion of various tribes within the Scheduled Tribe category. Detailed explanations were provided by the committee to justify the inclusion or exclusion of specific tribes from this list. Following the implementation of these reforms, the Kukis and Nagas retained their status within the Scheduled Tribe category, whereas the Meiteis were removed from this designation.


Emergence of anti-Indian movements

Following the enforced merger agreement signed by the Indian government, anti-India movements emerged within the Manipur populace, giving rise to diverse groups of varying sizes. Their objective was to liberate Manipur from Indian control, driven by their discontent with their ruler’s humiliation and forced submission. They vehemently rejected Manipur’s incorporation into India. Among these groups, a significant proportion of Indian nationalist factions consisted of Kukis, who had initially been actively engaged in the Manipur government within the Imphal Valley. Gradually, the hill tribes also began organizing into Indian nationalist entities.


A Naga tribe put forth the demand for the establishment of a distinct Naga nation by unifying Assam, Nagaland, and Burma. The Nagas aspired for an independent kingdom and established the National Socialist Council of Nagaland. This group initiated armed assaults on both India and Myanmar. Observing the Nagas’ struggle, the Kukis formed their own faction, launching the Anglo-Kukis movement with the specific aim of achieving a separate Kuki state, known as Kukis Land.


Internal conflicts and clashes among tribes

Initially, the Kuki community held a somewhat distinct perspective. Their stance revolved around the idea of not necessitating a separate homeland but rather seeking a distinct state within the framework of India. Tensions have arisen between the Chakma and Kuki groups as both advocate for separate territories, leading to overlapping claims and interactions between the two tribes. Conversely, when conflicts emerge involving the Meiteis residing in the valley, the Nagas and Kukis join forces, uniting to fight alongside the Meiteis.



In reality, a sense of mutual cooperation exists among the Kukis, Meiteis, and Nagas tribes. At their core, all three groups aim to preserve and advance their individual cultural identities. It is important to note that the root cause of opposition between the Kukis and Nagas lies in the contested land areas. In a significant event from this sequence, the Nagas launched an attack on Kuki territories in 1993, an incident that escalated and is remembered as the ‘Black Day’ for the Kuki people. Subsequent to this conflict, each tribe established its own armed units, which they regard as their respective military forces – for instance, the Kuki National Army and the Kuki Revolutionary Army. Similarly, the Nagas formed their own armed factions like the Naga National Socialist Council.


These tribal groups have not only engaged in conflicts amongst themselves but have also expressed opposition towards India.


Efforts for peace from the Indian Government’s side.

In response to the unfolding events in Manipur, the Indian government designated the region as a disturbed area, leading to the implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), effectively imposing a military curfew. Within this area, conflicting claims from various inhabited tribes further exacerbate the situation. Whenever the government reaches an agreement with one group, another group takes up arms, leading to further unrest. Prior to the year 2000, Kukis had formed around 30 armed factions. In 2001, the Indian government initiated a peace process with a faction of the Nagas.


The Meiteis, residing in the valley, began to feel increasingly insecure due to the demands for Greater Nagaland and the ongoing Naga peace process with the Indian government. The fear that their land might be ceded to the Nagas sparked large-scale protests, including an incident where the Manipur Assembly was set ablaze. Following these events, tensions escalated between the Meiteis and Kukis.


The Meiteis were concerned that the tribal population was growing in their areas, while in the valley, it was diminishing. A belief emerged among the Meiteis that Kukis were migrating from Myanmar to India, leading to open opposition by the Meiteis against the Kukis. Despite changes in leadership, successive governments have struggled to establish lasting peace in the region.


Tripartite Agreement of 2008

In 2008, under the leadership of Manmohan Singh, a significant peace process was launched with these groups. As part of this initiative, a tripartite agreement was reached involving the Indian Government, Manipur State Government, and the Kuki representatives. This agreement, known as the Suspension of Operation (SoO), encompassed 25 Kuki groups. Over two thousand individuals were housed in different camps, under the supervision of armed forces, and overseen by a Kuki leader. Since its inception in 2008, the agreement has undergone multiple extensions. However, recent developments indicate that the Kuki armed forces have issued a threat, expressing their intention to terminate the agreement if a satisfactory resolution is not achieved.


In Manipur’s political landscape, the Congress party has predominantly held power, with only two terms seeing victory for the BJP. Congress consistently extended the duration of the agreement. Notably, even under the BJP government in 2017, similar steps were taken, resulting in the extension of the agreement’s duration.


Drug trafficking and papulation ratio Manipur

During a rally in Manipur in 2022 as part of an election campaign, Ema Shah announced that if the BJP were to return to power, they would provide a solution for the Kuki community within five years.


The reforms introduced by the BJP garnered support from both the Kukis and the Meiteis, leading to their endorsement and contributing to electoral success. N. Biren Singh, elected as the Chief Minister of Manipur, belongs to the Meitei tribe. Given that a substantial portion of Manipur’s population consists of Meiteis, primarily residing in the Imphal Valley, they constitute 53% of the total population. The population density of Meiteis is comparatively lower in the hilly regions.


The new Chief Minister of Manipur, N. Biren Singh, shares ties with the Meitei tribe himself, leading to occasional allegations that he favors the Meiteis. He has made multiple efforts to combat the illegal trafficking of drugs and weapons in Moreh, which is connected to the notorious Golden Triangle spanning Thailand, Myanmar, and China – an infamous hub for the drug trade. This illicit drug business thrives across these regions, while opium cultivation occurs in the hilly areas. Various dangerous groups have taken refuge in the jungles of Manipur to conduct their illicit activities.


Reports indicate that Manipur’s population is steadily increasing. In comparison to the overall population growth rate of India, Manipur’s growth rate is 24.6%. However, Manipur’s growth rate alone surpasses 32%, reaching an alarming 100% in the hilly regions. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh revealed that while in 1902, the Meitei population constituted 53% of the total, it had decreased to 49% in 2022.


Conversely, the Kukis comprised 1% of the total population in 1902, and by 2022, their proportion had surged to 29%. The open border between Myanmar and Manipur facilitates the movement of tribal people, leading to migration based on favorable conditions. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh pointed out that over the past five years, a majority of arrested drug suppliers were linked to Myanmar.


Reports indicate that over 13 acres of land in Manipur are dedicated to opium cultivation. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh mentioned that some individuals involved in this cultivation are referred to as “cookies.” These individuals claim that the Chief Minister’s statements supporting them are politically motivated to garner votes.


Chief Minister N. Biren Singh asserted that there are no undocumented residents living illegally in hiding in Manipur, emphasizing measures taken to remove unauthorized settlers from various areas of the state..


Tribal protests, conflicts between Indian Government and tribes

n 2023, the government made a decision to conduct a survey of areas previously associated with illegal opium trade. However, when the Forest Department ventured into these regions, members of the Kokki tribe confronted them, asserting that they had no authenticated documents or prior notices.


They argued that the mountainous regions of Manipur had been granted special status under Article 371-C, which designates responsibility for overseeing resources in these areas to their respective MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly). Citing this article, the Kokki tribe alleged that the Indian government was employing unjust force against them. In response, the Government of India initiated operations in these regions, leading to the forceful displacement of people.


Over 200 individuals lost their homes as a result. Similar operations were planned for Nagaland, but the BJP government issued a cautionary notice to the Central Government, highlighting the potential for violence. Consequently, the Indian government suspended the operation. However, the Manipur government continued its efforts, citing the thriving illegal drug trade in these areas as the reason.


The Kokki Students’ Federation organized protests against these actions. A protest rally culminated in a clash between the Chief Minister’s session and two factions of the Kokki tribe, resulting in a physical confrontation involving the police and the general public.


In the aftermath of this incident, the government held both Kokki tribe factions accountable for the turmoil. The government contended that these factions had violated the 2008 agreement and sought to undermine its integrity, leading to their expulsion from the agreement. Subsequently, the peace accord also concluded.


Shortly thereafter, on April 11, 2023, the Kokki Church in an Imphal colony, Manipur’s capital, was demolished. This act sparked further unrest among the Kokki tribe, particularly because the majority of Kokki tribe members adhere to the Christian faith. They interpreted this action as a declaration of war against them.


Actual reasons behind violence in Manipur

In 2023, the Meiteis established the STDCM (Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur) with the aim of attaining Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. They relentlessly pursued this goal and submitted multiple petitions. In response, the judiciary issued a notice to determine whether Meiteis should be granted ST status or not, with a decision expected within four weeks. This legal development reignited tensions and conflicts between the Kokkis and Meiteis.


The Imphal Valley, constituting 10% of Manipur’s territory, is home to a diverse population including Meiteis, Gorkhas, and Muslims. The Meiteis contended that people from various parts of India can purchase land in the valley, but they are restricted from acquiring land in their ancestral regions. It’s important to note that the Indian Amendment Act prohibits non-ST community members in Manipur from buying land from ST communities.



These measures effectively confined the Meiteis to the Imphal Valley. According to Meitei reports, their proportion of the total population declined from 60% in 1902 to 49% in 2022. In contrast, the Kuki population increased from 29% in 1902 to 29% in 2022. Meiteis attributed this population change to migration from different Myanmarese tribes.


Meiteis argued that, historically, the Taj Britain ruled over the Imphal Valley for convenience, and as a matter of principle, they should have authority over the entire Manipur region. On the other hand, the Kukis asserted that Meiteis, constituting 53% of the total population, enjoy various facilities and better economic conditions due to their geographical location.


The Kukis claimed that Meiteis hold more political influence, with 40 out of Manipur’s total 60 seats held by Meitei representatives. This majority allows them to elect their preferred MLAs and wield significant influence in governance. Interestingly, Chief Ministers from non-Meitei tribes have been elected only twice in Manipur’s history.


Kukis expressed concerns that if Meiteis are included in the ST category, they may acquire Kuki lands. They emphasized that Meiteis do not completely fulfill the criteria for ST status, even constitutionally.


Much like the tribal groups, Meiteis have been advocating for their rights. An Indian law allows tribal populations in the hills to establish autonomous districts, enabling them to make decisions about their regions independently. This law applies to Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Tripura, but not to Manipur’s hilly areas.


In response to perceived inequities, Manipur’s tribal groups also demanded ST inclusion. In August 2021, all tribal MLAs questioned their exclusion. However, their proposed ‘Manipur ADC Bill 2021,’ seeking greater powers for the Hill Areas Committee and the Autonomous District Council (ADC), was rejected by the state government. This was seen as an effort to exclude them from the ST Schedule. The discussions have since focused on the inclusion of Meiteis in the ST category.


A judicial directive concerning Meiteis triggered a fresh uproar across Manipur. The Kukis openly opposed this decision, claiming it was detrimental to them. In an attempt to prolong the decision-making process, the government requested an extension from four weeks to one year.


Consequently, a united movement emerged from Churachandpur, demanding that ST status not be granted to Meiteis. In contrast, Meiteis organized rallies advocating for ST status, asserting their right to this classification.


During this period, the police divided into two groups, with Cookies’ police overseeing Meitei areas and vice versa. The Manipur police adapted based on the location of incidents, determining which group was involved before taking appropriate action.


Over time, the police began confiscating weapons, although there were claims that some weapons were used by the police themselves. Licenses and documents for weapons were destroyed to eliminate any traces. Amidst the conflict, many individuals opted to carry their national identity or voter cards instead of ethnic identity cards or Aadhar cards, potentially to avoid suspicion of carrying weapons.


Case of the naked woman in Mani Pura, the issue of the parade video, and government actions

The situation in Manipur took a dark turn when a viral image falsely depicting a girl being hanged in a pole bag after being murdered circulated on social media. This led to increased clashes, killings, looting, and the targeting of women among different groups. The situation escalated quickly, dividing the city into two factions, causing over 60 deaths and more than 200 FIRs being filed in just 48 hours. Cases were being registered under various sections in Manipur but not being transferred to the appropriate police stations.



The Supreme Court of India intervened, clarifying that only the President, in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution, has the authority to decide who is included in the ST (Scheduled Tribe) list. The Supreme Court rejected the High Court’s order. Despite these legal actions, terrorism and conflict continued to spread in Manipur.

Amidst the chaos, a video emerged showing a girl being stripped and paraded, further fueling fear, harassment, and violence. On May 4, 2023, a group of terrorists entered Thoubol Colony, initiating looting and violence. The police station in Moju remained passive during the attack.


During this incident, five individuals managed to escape, seeking refuge at a nearby police station. However, the extremist terrorists managed to rescue them from police custody. After subjecting two women to sexual assault, they forced them to parade without clothes. Tragically, they killed a father and son among the five.


Despite these horrific events, justice remained elusive. It took 14 days for the girl to lodge a complaint, and even then, no results were obtained. The Home Minister, Amit Shah, visited for an investigation but struggled to comprehend the nature of the case.


The involved individuals were eventually arrested, but Manipur remained under the control of terrorists for nearly 48 hours. The Chief Minister cited the need to control emotions and shut down the internet as a response to the viral video.


On June 4, the Central Government established a committee to address the issue and specifically examined six cases. Despite efforts by Amit Shah to promote peaceful coexistence, the chaos spread to neighboring states, leading Assam’s COO to sign a warning to protect the Kuki community from the Indian Army.


The situation in Manipur remained critical, and it was anticipated that without adequate resolution from the Indian Government, the situation might further deteriorate, potentially leading to more serious incidents in the future.

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