In Manipur, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), representing various recognized tribes, has issued an advisory urging the population to observe Christmas and New Year with restraint due to the persisting ethnic conflict in the state.
ITLF’s Advisory for Low-Key Celebrations
ITLF leader Ginza Vualzong, in the advisory, emphasized the need for subdued celebrations during Christmas and New Year. Given the prevailing atmosphere and threats faced by frontline villagers, the advisory highlights the importance of refraining from ostentatious festivities, especially with the bodies of those killed in ethnic clashes remaining unburied.
Vualzong called on all communities and churches to observe a muted festive season, advocating for a focus on regular church services rather than organizing elaborate feasts and fellowship events like Lengkhaw.
Control Measures for Public Safety
As part of the precautionary measures, the ITLF spokesperson recommended limiting outdoor activities, concluding sports events like Futsal by 8 pm, and closing shops and outdoor food stalls around the same time. Citizens were urged to stay vigilant and prepared for potential disturbances during Christmas and New Year.
The ethnic conflict, primarily between the Meitei and Kuki-Zomi communities, has persisted for over seven months, resulting in significant casualties and displacement. The conflict originated on May 3, triggered by a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ protesting the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
Security Measures and Continued Incidents
While no major incidents have occurred since December 4, when 13 people were killed in a gun battle, sporadic reports of conflicts continue in certain parts of the state. The conflict has claimed at least 190 lives, left over a thousand injured, and rendered 60,000 people homeless. Security forces remain vigilant to prevent untoward incidents.