Manipur: Over 50 dead, hundreds hospitalized by ethnic violence in India

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New Delhi

Ethnic violence in the Indian state of Manipur has left at least 55 people dead, according to hospitals in the city of Imphal.

A further 260 people have been hospitalized since violence broke out between members of the Kuki and Meitei ethnic groups earlier this week, hospital officials told CNN on Sunday.

The two groups have been clashing in the streets of Imphal in India’s east.

Gunshot wounds are the most common injury, according to officials at Imphal hospitals the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences and Churachandpur District Hospital.

“Most of the patients are coming in with severe bullet injuries or having been hit in the head with lathis [sticks],” Dr Mang Hatzow of Churachandpur District Hospital in Manipur told CNN.

Video and photos broadcast on local television showed vehicles and buildings set on fire, with thick black smoke billowing from the streets.

Indian army troops have been deployed to the streets and a five-day mobile internet blackout is in force.

CNN reached out to the state government of Manipur and the Indian army on Sunday but there was no immediate response.

Earlier this week the state’s governor, Anusuiya Uikey, issued “shoot-at-sight” orders in an effort to bring the situation under control.

The orders were authorized for “extreme cases whereby all forms of persuasion, warning, reasonable force etc. had been exhausted” and the situation “could not be controlled,” a statement from Manipur’s home department said.

Skirmishes first broke out on Tuesday after thousands of tribal people took part in a rally organized by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur, against the potential inclusion of the state’s majority Meitei ethnic group in India’s “Scheduled Tribe” grouping.

The Meitei community, who make up about 50% of the state’s population, have for years campaigned to be recognized as a scheduled tribe, which would give them access to wider benefits including health, education and government jobs.

Scheduled tribes are among the most socio-economically disadvantaged groups in India and have historically been denied access to education and job opportunities.

If the Meitei community are given scheduled tribe status, other tribal groups say they fear they will not have a fair chance for jobs and other benefits.


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