Amidst the ongoing conflict between Kukis and Meiteis in Manipur, the United Naga Council (UNC), the apex Naga body in the Northeast, has issued a plea for the restoration of neutrality towards the Nagas caught in the crossfire. The conflict, now entering its ninth month, has resulted in approximately 200 casualties.
Neutrality as a Victim
The UNC expressed concern that Nagas in Manipur have become unintended victims due to their neutral stance in the conflict between Kukis and Meiteis. The Naga body highlighted the need for the two warring groups to refrain from targeting Nagas in their pursuit of peace and normalcy restoration.
Unacceptable Acts Against Nagas
In a statement, the UNC revealed that Nagas faced “unacceptable acts” such as the blockade of inter-village roads, construction of bunkers, checking, frisking, and extortion of taxes along National Highways by armed Kuki militants and women. Moreover, in the valley, Nagas experienced violence, kidnapping, looting, and extortion, along with money collection by Meira Paibis on highways under the pretext of waging war against a community.
Diverse Ethnic Landscape of Manipur
Manipur, characterized by a diverse ethnic landscape, is home to three major groups: the Meiteis in the valley, the Nagas, and Kuki-Chin tribes in the hills. The Meiteis constitute around 53% of the state’s population, with Nagas making up about 24%.
The conflict unfolds, the UNC’s plea reflects the broader impact on communities caught in the crossfire. The call for restoring neutrality emphasizes the need for all parties involved to consider the well-being of every ethnic group in Manipur.