Manipur at a Glance - An Ethnic Dilemma
- Part 2 -

Khulakfam Altab Ali *

 Manipur at a Glance - An Ethnics Dilemm

*** Please scroll down to download the entire Article in PDF - 1.4 MB )


Between the valley based ethnic groups, there is a chaos in 1993. On May 3rd, 1993, more than 100 lives, including women and children, were lost their life, which may be or may not be pre planed massacre. The rise of ideologically backed ethno groups of Meitei might be the cause of the massacre.

The exact factor of the massacre is still unclear. Pangals observed the day as "Black day" every year. Student bodies still remember the day as "Sahidee Memorial Day"

As a result of the massacre of Pangal by Meitei in 1993, the Pangals (Muslims of Manipur) raised militant outfits such as the Northeast Minority Front (NEMF), Islamic National Front (INF), Islamic Revolutionary Front (IRF), United Islamic Liberation Army (UILA), Islamic Liberation Front (ILF) and People's United Liberation Front (PULF) to counter the challenge on Pangal and to run a parallel economy and control of turf by being visible in the society.

The most prominent and long lasted among, was PULF that acted against any antisocial elements among Pangal which operate upto the early period of 21st century. All the Pangal outfits based in Manipur were extinct from the soil. The Pangal's massacre also showers the emergence of Civil Society Organisation and student organisation.


Apart from the many internal issue of time to time inside their respective ethnic lines, there's an occurrence of many issues between the hill and the valley. Divisive tendencies in a society are often caused by uneven distribution of opportunities. The Peace talk of Naga becomes a defensive tool for the Nagas but it severely hit the sentiment of the Valley based people as a question of state integrity.

In 2001, 18th June, 2001, 18 (Eighteen) lives were lost and many wounded while protest against the Ceasefire agreement. The Bangkok declaration, a ceasefire agreement "without territorial limits" signed between government of India and NSCN (IM) made the 2001 June, a horrendous month.

Assembly Hall was set to fire, Chief Minister's Secretariat was completely razed, four MLAs and the speaker of the time were injured. 15 Official residences of Legislators, Political party office, government vehicles were destroyed.

Peoples of Manipur pay tributes to the 18 soul every year, observing the day as "The Great June Uprising Day". The political figure was also totally break down in the state.

After the Pangal's Massacre, Direct violence has slowly been replaced by "structural and cultural violence". As per Paul Farmer, "structural violence" includes any violence or suffering caused by the structures and institutions of a society. People who suffer from structural violence cannot control the conditions that have caused their suffering.

That is exactly what is happening in Manipur. Sometimes, Polarization of wrong propaganda makes the Pangal to feel like a treat upon them.

In these few decades, after the Pangal's massacre, numbers of Pangal has been lynched to death in series at several Meitei constituent area which the Pangal confused the situation weather the situation is a threat to Pangal or any other reason behind.

Though this ethnic group has its own 400 years long history, the Ethnicity electoral system makes the Pangal helpless while entering the political arena which results in the failure of making a rational structure of the society. Pangal remains the most backward section in the society in all fields.

Besides the Internal issues, some national policies which triggered the ethnicity lines of Manipur also disturbed the environment. Citizenship Amendment bill 2016, that passed in Lok Sabha in 2018 is one of the recent issue. As the bill clearly mentions to provide citizenship of 6 (Six) migrants' sections from 3 (Three) neighboring countries of India based on the religion which totally threats the Ethnic identity of Manipur.


Manipur being Multicultural society, all the ethnics groups developed their heritage parallelly under the respective ethno-social boundaries. The 'divide and rule policy' of the colonial administration in relation to administering the hills and plains of Manipur and the introduction of Christianity amongst the tribal groups of Naga and Kuki had further widened the cultural gap with Meitei.

Certain post independence developments deepened some prejudices leading to intercommunity ethnic clashes. These clashes also hastened the formation of various armed groups, civil society organizations, student organizations, which were affiliated to respective ethnic communities. Some of the bodies were not only waging struggle against the establishment, but were seen more as a necessity against the hegemony and violence perpetrated by rival communities.

A harmonious existence of the state is being threatened as the interests of one group clash with the other. This has given rise to assertion of group identity; inter group competition for resources, political instability, insecurity and underdevelopment. Mutual Emotional Integrity of all the Ethnic Group exists only in Paper and Dialogues.

Besides, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reform Act imposed in the state did not allowed the valley Meitei and Pangal groups to settle in the hills whereas the hill tribal's were allowed to settle in the valley. Besides, the armed cadres are being used as leverage by those who do not want the Manipur conflict to get resolved.

As long as the groups are allowed to retain their armed cadres and camps, Manipur will remain a dilemma for the state and a predicament of the North-Eastern region. Governments are sometimes nervous while coming to the resolution of Ethnic based issue and sometimes takes political advantages over the issue.

The central governments play a diplomatic role not only between Naga & Kuki but also between Hills & Valley. By treating conflicts involving ethnic minority groups as irregular, highly sensitive and nationally significant, it is likely that the government is creating greater insecurity by distorting public perceptions of ethnic relations and reinforcing negative predispositions when the Naga issue comes.

We must aware of the Cultural factors that define one ethnic by self and others, discrimination in political, social and economical dimension and consensuses.


The proposition that ethnic conflict has been one of the most significant impediments to modernization, development and growth in the state, considering that 'ethnicity' and 'ethnic diversity' in the Manipuri context are fundamentally elusive concepts.

Many scholars have tried to make sense of the complex interplay of ethnicity, conflict and development but too often from a singular rather than from a plural perspective. Any issue must not bring up if it will affect another ethnic group.

We should forward to those issue for the development of all. Now. it's mandatory to predict out the resolution to eliminate the tension of ethnicity.


o The power of identity, 2nd ed. - Castells, Manuel. 2010

o 25 years after Naga-Kuki clashes in Manipur, reconciliation is still elusive - Arunabh Saikia

o Culture, Identity and Conflict in Asia and Southeast Asia - Aurel Croissant, Christoph Trinn

o Politics of Ethnic conflict in Manipur - Nehginpao Kipgen

o The causes of ethnic conflict in Multi-ethnic societies - Hossien Mohammadzadeh

o Manipur - At a Glance - A. Balasubramanian

o Govt. of Manipur- gazette Notification

o 7 new districts formed in Manipur amid opposition by Nagas Ethnic - India Today o Conflict and Harmonization: A Study of Manipur - Brig Sushil Kumar Sharma

o Manifesto of the Kuki National Organisation

o Statistical Report - Election Commission of India

o Contour of Conflict in Manipur - Narendra Kumar

Photo Courtesy :

o Institute for defense studies and analysis

Concluded ...

* Khulakfam Altab Ali wrote this article for
The writer can reached at altab(DOT)mailbox(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 13 2019.

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