Arresting the Unrest: The Deep-rooted Conflict between Meitei and Kuki Communities in Manipur

Manipur is a picturesque state in Northeast India, is marred by a long-standing conflict between its indigenous communities – the Meitei, Naga, and Kuki. Among these, the Meitei community holds widespread resentment towards the Kuki population, accusing them of illegal land occupation, drug cultivation, trafficking activities, and unfair demands for government jobs and reservations. The recent outbreak of violence in May 2023 has escalated tensions, leading to an exodus of 50,000 people and claiming the lives of 150 individuals from both communities. This blog delves into the complexities of the Manipur Violence, exploring the historical background and the need for a lasting solution.

The Three Ethnic Groups of Manipur:

Manipur is a culturally diverse state with three prominent ethnic groups – the Meitei, Naga, and Kuki. The Meitei community primarily resides in the valley areas, while the Kukis inhabit the hills and forest regions. The Naga community also has a significant presence in certain parts of the state.

Resentment within the Meitei Community:

The indigenous Meitei community has expressed deep-seated resentment towards the Kukis, accusing them of occupying land illegally in the hills and forest areas. The allegations of illegal drug cultivation and trafficking activities further contribute to the growing mistrust between the communities. Moreover, the Kukis’ demands for a share in government jobs, reservations, and claims over state resources have escalated tensions, fueling the fire of discord.

ST Reservation Category Controversy:

Adding to the unrest, the Manipur High Court’s ruling regarding the inclusion of the Meitei community comprising 60% population of Manipur in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) reservation category has intensified the conflict. The Kukis currently enjoy ST status, and the prospect of the Meitei community being included in the same category has aggravated the situation, leading to heightened anger within the Meitei population.

May 2023: Unprecedented Violence and Aftermath:

In May 2023, Manipur witnessed an unprecedented outbreak of violence between the Kukis and Meiteis, resulting in a tragic loss of lives and the displacement of thousands. The situation deteriorated to such an extent that a video of two Kuki women being paraded naked by suspected Meitei individuals surfaced on social media, exposing the brutality and inhumanity of the conflict.

The Call for Government Intervention:

The Government of India has ordered a high-level investigation into the violence and its underlying causes. However, the situation in Manipur remains dire, with a complete breakdown of law and order. Many argue that it is a fit case for the imposition of President’s Rule under Article 356 of the Constitution of India until peace and normalcy are restored. However, the ruling party at both the state and central levels belonging to the BJP has made such an action seem unlikely.

A Plea for Peace:

In this time of distress, it is crucial for the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to intervene and call upon all concerned parties to work towards a mutual and beneficial solution. The restoration of peace and normalcy in Manipur should be of paramount importance, even if it necessitates the imposition of President’s Rule to safeguard the lives and property of all citizens residing in the state.


The conflict between the Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur is a deeply rooted issue that demands immediate attention and resolution. It is vital for all parties involved to engage in dialogue, empathy, and understanding to find a lasting solution that promotes peace, coexistence, and development for the entire state. Only through collective efforts and sincere commitment can Manipur transcend its troubled past and embrace a harmonious future for its people

(By Adv. Amar S. Deshmukh)

Author is Managing Partner of TruLex, the law firm in Pune.

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