Nine people were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Kamenlok village, on the outskirts of state capital Imphal, in the remote northeast Indian state of Manipur. The incident was confirmed by Manipur government information officer Heisnam Balakrishna who said that the gunmen stormed the village and shot at homes indiscriminately using “sophisticated weapons”, killing nine people including a woman. Further, ten others were injured and taken to a hospital in Imphal for treatment.
Unrest over ethnic tensions
The latest incident in Manipur comes amid weeks of violence caused by longstanding ethnic tensions stemming from an ongoing dispute over access to government jobs and other benefits. The unrest started in May and has resulted in over 100 deaths, with mobs raiding the police stations to steal weapons while tens of thousands of people fled their homes to seek safety.
Clashes between Kuki and Meitei tribes
Last month, tensions in Manipur reached a boiling point between the majority Meitei community, mostly Hindus who live in and around Imphal, and the predominantly Christian Kuki tribe residing in the surrounding hills. The Meitei community agitated over the Kuki demands for reserved public job quotas and college admissions, which they see as affirmative action. This agitated the Kuki tribe that was fearful that Meitei would be allowed to acquire lands in areas reserved for them and other tribal groups.
Remote Northeast India
Manipur is part of India’s remote northeast region that is connected to the rest of the country by a narrow land corridor. The area houses many tribal groups and small ethnic guerrilla armies whose demands vary from greater autonomy to secession from India. Last month, the state was put under a curfew, and the internet was shut down for most people because of the perpetuating violence.
India’s Home Minister’s visit and demand
Amit Shah, India’s Home Minister, visited the state earlier this month, where the violence had erupted. He demanded the return of assault rifles seized from police stations when the violence began. However, the situation remains chaotic in Manipur.