At least 30 people have died in Manipur, a state in northeastern India, in very violent ethnic clashes that have been going on for weeks. The latest clashes began last week after a demonstration by several groups opposing the inclusion of the Meitei people among the tribes officially recognized as a disadvantaged ethnic group.
The Meitei make up at least 50% of Manipur’s population and have been calling for years to be included in the category of disadvantaged ethnic groups, for which the government reserves government jobs, facilitated university admissions and a minimum number of seats at all levels of government. The recognition would also give the Meitei people access to various forest lands: other ethnic groups of the state, however, fear losing control over these territories and have been protesting very violently for a week.
The clashes born of this debate led to attacks on houses, vehicles and temples: according to some reconstructions up to 54 people would have died, while 10 thousand would have fled the region to escape the violence. Thousands of government soldiers have been sent to the area to end the clashes. Each side blames the other for the unrest, but according to Al Jazeera most of those killed belong to the Kuki community, a predominantly Christian ethnic group living in the hills and whose villages and churches have been targeted by Meitei groups.