India - July 2023
Ethnic violence in Manipur ongoing
Ethnic violence that broke out on 3 May in India's northeastern state of Manipur remains unquelled, having claimed over 150 lives and having displaced tens of thousands, as of 31 July. The conflict arises from tensions between the Meitei (majority) and Kuki (minority) state populations, exacerbated by a recent court recommendation to potentially grant Scheduled Tribe status to the Meitei community, which could give them access to broader social benefits and land acquisition rights in areas inhabited by minority groups. Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly commented on the violence, prompted by a viral video depicting sexual assault, noting that "the incident of Manipur which has come to the fore is shameful for any civilisation. The country is shamed. I appeal to all chief ministers to strengthen laws to take stringent action against crime, especially against women." Modi's remarks come amid heated debates in parliament amongst opposition lawmakers pressing for a stronger response to the ethnic clashes. In an attempt to reinstate order, the government has dispatched numerous paramilitary forces and police to the region. An 83-day-long Internet shutdown was enforced, finally being eased on 25 July. However, mobile internet and social media access remain suspended. Human rights groups have criticized the length of state-wide internet bans, noting that they infringe on free speech and are not helping to stop the violence.