NEW DELHI: At least one person was shot dead and houses were set on fire as fresh ethnic violence erupted in India’s restive northeastern state of Manipur, officials said Thursday.
Manipur has been on the boil after an explosion of inter-ethnic violence this month killed at least 70 people and left tens of thousands displaced. Some 2,000 houses were also burned down across the state that borders Myanmar.
The violence was sparked by anger among the Kuki tribal group at the prospect of the majority Meitei community being given guaranteed quotas of government jobs and other perks in a form of affirmative action. This also stoked long-held fears among the Kuki that the Meitei might also be allowed to acquire land in areas currently reserved for them and other tribal groups.
The military has deployed thousands of troops to the state, where curfews have been imposed and the internet cut for several weeks. An indefinite curfew was reimposed on Wednesday in the flashpoint Bishnupur district after suspected militants fired at a group of people, fatally wounding one person.
“Two persons, who had been living in a relief camp, were injured during the firing by the militants and one of them later died in a hospital,” a local police officer, who did not want to be identified, told media. Before the shooting, suspected militants torched some abandoned houses close to a relief camp set up for those displaced during the violence, the officer said. The house of local minister Govindas Konthoujam was also attacked and ransacked when the family was away.
India’s northeast has seen decades of unrest among ethnic and separatist groups seeking more autonomy or even secession from India, with at least 50,000 people killed in Manipur since the 1950s.
Such conflicts had waned over the years, with many groups striking deals with New Delhi for more powers.