Draconian laws fuel separatist movements in India’s conflict-hit Manipur

ISLAMABAD    -   The imposition of draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Acts (AFSPA) in the Indi­an state of Manipur has deepened the trust deficit between the government and multi-ethnic society of Manipur state, fuelling the already active sepa­ratist movements in the region. Since May 3, Ma­nipur has witnessed inter-ethnic clashes primar­ily between Meitei and Kuki communities which resulted in over 98 deaths and the burning of at least 1,700 buildings including homes and reli­gious sites. According to the media reports, more than 35,000 people are currently displaced as well, with many now living in one of the 315 relief camps in the state. Instead of finding out any polit­ical means to resolve the dispute, the “Indian gov­ernment’s response has largely echoed the strate­gies India has previously employed during unrest in the Northeast or Jammu and Kashmir,” the Unit­ed States Institute of Peace said in a report.

“This has included issuing military curfews, sus­pending internet services and deploying approxi­mately 17,000 troops and paramilitary forces with shoot-on-site orders in effect for “extreme cases.”

Just like the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Narendra Modi-led government is also trying to suppress the demands of the three million people, through the use of brutal force. The AFSPA act has been criticized by Human Rights Watch as a “tool of state abuse, oppression and dis­crimination”. On 31 March 2012, the UN asked In­dia to revoke AFSPA saying it had no place in In­dian democracy. The violence erupted after the militants, reportedly backed by the central gov­ernment attacked five localities mainly inhibited by the Christian community. The latest factor trig­gering the violence was a high court’s decision or­dering to grant a Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the Meiteis that would give them access to forest lands and entitle them to reservations in government jobs and educational institutions.

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