Manipur, a rude reminder of northeast tensions

The article highlights the persistent divisions, ethnic sub-nationalism, ethnic tensions in Manipur, and polarization in Manipur, which have led to violence and displacement. It also discusses the challenges the government faces in addressing the conflict and the need for dialogue and understanding.

What is the context?

The recent violence and ethnic tensions in Manipur Manipur,  have resulted in significant loss of life and displacement of thousands. This unfortunate situation serves as a stark reminder that deep-rooted tensions still persist in the northeastern region of India. Resolving the Manipur imbroglio promptly is crucial to prevent the escalation of similar conflicts in other parts of the region. However, finding a solution requires sensitive handling and a comprehensive understanding of the ethnic divide and historical complexities involved.

Persistent Divisions:

Despite the perception of increased integration in the northeast over time, the ethnic violence in Manipur exposes the existence of enduring divisions. Improved infrastructure and support for the region have not completely bridged the gap between the tribes and the plains people. The fraying of India’s composite culture, which is affecting various parts of the country, also casts a shadow over the northeast.

Ethnic Sub-Nationalism and Identity Politics:

Another significant dimension in the northeast is the presence of ethnic sub-nationalism and identity politics, which aggravate tensions. The developments in Manipur indicate that ethnic identities continue to overshadow other considerations, despite hopes that previous conflicts between ethnic allegiances and mainstream nationalism had subsided. Consolidation efforts by different tribal entities have rekindled old issues and reopened previously settled disputes.

Polarization and Irreconcilable Differences:

In Manipur, the conflict between the majority Meitei community and the Kuki-Mizo-Chin-Zomi-Naga hill tribes has reached a point of total polarization. Despite peace initiatives by the central authorities, fresh outbreaks of violence persist. The relocation of communities and demands for separate administrations highlight the deep divisions. The state government and the chief minister face severe criticism from the Kuki tribals, while Meitei elements contemplate the formation of a civilian defense force.


Challenges that the government faces in addressing the violence in Manipur are as follows:

  • The conflict is complex and has a long history.
  • There are a number of different armed groups involved in the insurgency.
  • The insurgents have strong support among some sections of the population.
  • The government has limited resources to deal with the conflict.
Seeking Effective Solutions:

The recent visit of Home Minister Amit Shah to Manipur has generated expectations, but the proposed solutions require careful evaluation. While a judicial probe and a three-member committee have been well received, the proposal for a unified command overseeing security appears draconian in the current circumstances. Initiating a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into specific incidents of violence is a positive step, but changing the Director General of Police belonging to the Kuki tribe may further widen the gap between the warring communities.

Emphasizing Dialogue and Understanding:

In this critical situation, it is essential for level-headed voices to take the lead. The northeast remains a volatile region undergoing transformation and adaptation. Achieving a proper equilibrium demands sensitivity, innovative thinking, and understanding of cultural factors. Cultural and sociological factors underpin the Meitei versus Tribal divide. A solution must strike a balance by acknowledging realities and moral imperatives of the tribal communities. The central government’s approach should prioritize dialogue while avoiding perceptions of weakness, and it must be seen as impartial and working towards justice.


Resolving the Manipur imbroglio swiftly is crucial to prevent the eruption of similar conflicts elsewhere in the region. The complexities of ethnic tensions and historical divisions require nuanced understanding and an approach that accommodates various viewpoints. Union government must act on moral principles, national interest, neutrality, & determination. Prompt & decisive action can achieve satisfactory solution. This will contribute to peace & stability in Manipur & North Eeast region.

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