Ethnic Tensions in Manipur: The Unfulfilled Promise of Unity during Christmas

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In Manipur, the failure to launch the MST bus service has evolved beyond a mere logistical setback; it has become a poignant symbol of the tangible and emotional separation between the Kuki and Meitei communities. Paojalal Hangshing, Information and Publicity Secretary of Kuki Inpi Sadar Hills (KISH), emphasized that the inability to initiate the bus service goes beyond practicalities—it signifies a profound disconnect between two ethnic groups within the state.

Expressing gratitude to responsible-minded Meiteis who refrained from crossing the buffer zone during this tumultuous period, KISH acknowledged the restraint shown by their Meitei counterparts despite puzzling notices from the Manipur home department to reopen highways that were never closed.

Hangshing highlighted the ongoing ethnic violence that erupted on May 3, with Meiteis targeting Kuki-Zo communities irrespective of age or gender. The fear for their lives, rather than the closure of roads, prevents Kuki-Zo from entering Meitei-dominated areas. Hangshing urged the state government to recognize that a separate administration for the Kuki-Zo is the only viable path to lasting peace, dismissing the notion of opening a highway as a distraction.

About Launch The MST Bus Service:

While numerous Meiteis who ventured into Kuki-Zo areas were safely escorted back on humanitarian grounds, the ground reality remains volatile. The Kuki Inpi Sadar Hills cautioned Meiteis to navigate carefully through the state government’s attempts to project control in the midst of this tension.

Amid these challenging circumstances, the Kuki Inpi Sadar Hills wished everyone a joyous and merry Christmas. However, it is evident that the festive spirit is overshadowed by the prevailing unease between the communities.

Simultaneously, the Kuki Inpi Manipur, the apex body of the Kuki tribes, extended Christmas greetings to the global Kuki-Zo community. Ch. Ajang Khongsai, President of KIM, reflected on the ongoing hardships faced by the Kuki-Zo people, expressing hopes that the spirit of Christmas would bring peace, happiness, and hope.

Manipur grapples with not only the failure to launch a unifying bus service but also deep-seated ethnic tensions that threaten the fabric of unity. The plea for separate administration underscores the urgency of addressing these issues to pave the way for a more harmonious coexistence between the Kuki and Meitei communities. As Christmas unfolds against this backdrop, the hope for lasting peace remains a poignant wish for the people of Manipur.

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