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Communal Riots in Manipur - IAS Academy in Coimbatore


  1. The communal riots erupted between the Meiteis and Kuki-Hmar-Zomi communities in Manipur on 3rd May 2023.
  2. It has caused unprecedented human displacement and loss of lives and property.
  3. It is suggested that the riots and trails of destruction both in the urban areas and the state’s periphery have impacted the ideational and geopolitical foundations of Manipur.
  4. It is argued that delays in imposing orders allowed the ragtag mobs to carry out the erasure of lives, property, and land records (patta).
  5. By the time orders were implemented, a large amount of damage in the form of ethnic cleansing of tribals Kuki-Zomi-Hmar and the erasure of land titles were already done.
  6. Despite swift action in the Churchandpur district, the authorities could not stall the riots and sanitisation of disparate Meitei settlements.
  7. Similar counter-ethnic-cleansing drives occur in different parts of the states.

Manipur’s ethnic composition

  1. The State is like a football stadium with the Imphal Valley representing the playfield at the centre and the surrounding hills the galleries. The valley, which comprises about 10% of Manipur’s landmass, is dominated by the non-tribal Meitei who account for more than 64% of the population of the State and yields 40 of the State’s 60 MLAs.
  2. The hills comprising 90% of the geographical area are inhabited by more than 35% recognised tribes but send only 20 MLAs to the Assembly.
  3. While a majority of the Meiteis are Hindus followed by Muslims, the 33 recognised tribes, broadly classified into ‘Any Naga tribes’ and ‘Any Kuki tribes’ are largely Christians.

The Process of Inclusion in the ST List

  1. State governments starts recommendation for inclusion of the tribes in the list of ST.
  2. After the recommendation of the state govt, Tribal Affairs Ministry reviews and sends them to the Registrar General of India, Under the Home Ministry for approval.
  3. After approval, it is sent to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and then sent to the Cabinet for a final decision.
  4. Once the cabinet finalizes it, then it introduces a bill in the parliament to amend the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950.
  5. After the amendment bill is passed by both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the President’s office takes the final decision under Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution.


  1. It should be noted that tribals and Meities who are being evacuated for safety from Imphal, Lamka, and other towns to different regions in Manipur and metro cities will become ‘refugees’ for a long time.
  2. The ragtag mob succeeded in its attempt to dissolve tribal land rights in the valley areas which has been a major concern for Meities against the tribals in hill areas.
  3. It will make the task of post-conflict development and societal transformation extremely challenging.

Way Ahead:

  1. It is important to confess and confront the truth about riots and their cause. The government should proactively take responsibility.
  2. A judicial commission under the supervision of the Supreme Court should urgently fix accountability.
  3. It should be remembered that instead of federalism, a lack of democracy and improper functioning of federal institutions caused disorder and disintegration in Eastern Europe in the 1990s.
  4. It is suggested that there should be more genuine accommodation of tribal rights and identities under the Sixth Schedule.
  5. Moreover, Article 371C where ‘scheduled matters’ on the hill areas are made inviolable by the legislative majority should be made more robust.
  6. The existence of multiple tribal communities in Imphal and its valley implies that the state’s integrationist and majoritarian projects should contend with the asymmetrical regime of land rights, where tribals can also own land in both hills and valleys.
  7. It is advised that the State should withdraw all its notifications on reserved forests, protected forests, and wildlife sanctuaries. It should also stop targeting communities as ‘foreigners’, ‘encroachers’, and ‘illegal immigrants’.
  8. The communities of the region should be engaged in reasoned dialogues as equals.
  9. Inter-community reconciliation efforts should be initiated. Leaders of communities, the State, and other stakeholders should acknowledge the fact that accommodating distinctive rights is extremely challenging for inclusive Manipur.