Manipur CM Reveals 2,480 Illegal Immigrants Identified Before Ethnic Violence Erupted

Manipur's Chief Minister reveals 2,480 illegal immigrants were detected in four districts before ethnic violence erupted on May 3, 2023. The violence resulted in over 220 deaths and displacement, with cultural losses suffered by the Zo community.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Manipur CM Reveals 2,480 Illegal Immigrants Identified Before Ethnic Violence Erupted

Manipur CM Reveals 2,480 Illegal Immigrants Identified Before Ethnic Violence Erupted

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh disclosed on Sunday that a state Cabinet sub-committee had identified 2,480 illegal immigrants in four districts of the state before ethnic violence erupted on May 3, 2023, forcing the campaign to be halted. The violence has resulted in over 220 lives lost and left the state in turmoil, with many people displaced and unable to return to their homes.

Why this matters: The issue of illegal immigration in Manipur highlights the complexities of demographic and cultural tensions in the region, with far-reaching implications for social cohesion and national security. The violence and displacement that have resulted from these tensions serve as a warning for other regions grappling with similar challenges.

According to Singh, the sub-committee's efforts led to the detection of 1,165 illegal immigrants in 10 villages of Chandel district, 1,147 illegal immigrants in 13 villages of Tengnoupal district, 154 illegal immigrants in Churachandpur district, and the rest in Kamjong district. Additionally, Singh mentioned that 5,457 illegal immigrants had entered Kamjong district, with biometrics taken of 5,173 people, and 329 having returned voluntarily after the situation improved in the neighboring country.

The Cabinet sub-committee was formed in February 2023, led by Kuki minister Letpao Haokip, to address concerns over deforestation and new village setups by illegal immigrants. "We are not biased against anybody but against the illegal immigrants. It was a decision taken by the state cabinet," Singh stated. He emphasized that the detection of illegal immigrants was not limited to one community but was to cover the entire state of Manipur.

The violence that erupted on May 3, 2023, was sparked by a 'Tribal Solidarity March' organized in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population of approximately 3.6 million and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals – Nagas and Kukis – constitute little over 40 per cent and reside in the hill districts.

The ethnic clashes have also brought to light attempts of cultural genocide against the indigenous Zo community in Manipur. This includes the denial of education, destruction of records, literature, and artifacts related to education, and targeting of indigenous Zo scholars to silence their expressions. One notable incident is the case of Dr. Kam Khen Thang Hauzel, a 76-year-old pioneering Zo scholar and anthropologist, whose home library containing over 4,000 books and unpublished manuscripts was attacked and destroyed by a Meitei mob in May 2023.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh's revelation of the identification of 2,480 illegal immigrants in four districts before the outbreak of ethnic violence underscores the complex demographic and cultural tensions in the state. The destruction of Dr. Kam Khen Thang Hauzel's extensive library and unpublished works serves as a stark example of the cultural losses suffered by the Zo community amidst the ongoing conflict.

Key Takeaways

  • 2,480 illegal immigrants detected in 4 Manipur districts before May 3, 2023 violence.
  • Violence resulted in 220+ lives lost, displacement, and turmoil in the state.
  • Illegal immigration sparks demographic and cultural tensions in Manipur.
  • Zo community faces cultural genocide, including destruction of records and targeting of scholars.
  • Chief Minister N. Biren Singh emphasizes detection of illegal immigrants is not biased against any community.