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India: Judicial Commission to probe Manipur's 'ethnic violence'

A judicial probe has been ordered by India's federal home ministry into the unprecedented ethnic violence that killed over 70 people and displaced thousands more on June 1, 2023.

Federal Home Minister Amit Shah said, "The judicial commission would investigate the cause of the violence and identify those responsible for it.” 

Amit Shah warned of stringent action against those responsible for the violence during his four-day visit to the strife-torn state of Manipur.

Fresh reports of violence in the state led him to announce the establishment of a peace committee and an interagency unified command.

On May 3, Kuki tribal members, which include Christians, protested against a judge's decision granting Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to the mostly Hindu Meitei community. 

As part of India's affirmative action plan, ST status receives reservations in jobs and education. 

There are also Christians in the Meiteis, who make up 53 percent of Manipur's 3.2 million people and dominate the state's socio-economic landscape.

In response to a lack of trust in Chief Minister N Biren Singh's government, the Christian-majority Kuki community asked Amit Shah to impose President's rule. 

During President's rule in India, the federal government assumes direct control of the state after suspending the state government.

The Federal Home Minister, however, refused to accede to their demands, and both Shah and Singh are members of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party. 

According to him, the peace committee will be headed by Tribal Lady Anusuiya Uikey, a tribal woman, industrialists, sportspersons, and Kuki and Meitei elected representatives.

A state government has extended internet usage curbs until June 5 on the ground that, "there are still reports of arson of houses."

The state government further said, “... some anti-social elements might use social media extensively for transmission of images, hate speech and hate video messages, inciting public passions."

Church leaders told UCA News on June 1 that Christians and other indigenous groups have been the worst victims of the violence since it broke out.

They said, "Over 45,000 people were displaced due to rioters targeting Christian institutions, homes, and other belongings."

There are no signs of peace being restored in many tribal villages in the near future, according to church leaders. 

A peace appeal was issued by the North East India Regional Bishops' Council, which covers India's seven northeastern provincial states.

Archbishop John Moolachira, chairman of the North East India Regional Bishops' Council, said, “It is with great pain and intense anxiety that we have followed the terrible tragedies in Manipur recently."

The bishops stated, "We urge intellectual and creative thinkers from the communities to come up with ways to ease the situation, find a constructive way forward, and resolve the differences," the bishops said.- Anbu Selvam


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.