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Prolonged Ethnic Conflicts Have Always Involved Illegal Immigration

by Editorial Team
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Prolonged Ethnic Conflicts Have Always Involved Illegal Immigration

While many communal conflicts have taken place in Manipur, they have typically been resolved without spiraling into prolonged violence unless there is involvement of illegal immigrants. Since the British left the Asiatic Kingdom, no prolonged ethnic conflicts between any indigenous communities have been witnessed. There have been conflicts over minor issues between indigenous communities, but these did not escalate on a large scale. Such minor conflicts between indigenous communities typically ended through dialogues and local conflict-resolution mechanisms.
However, when the Naga-Kuki conflict happened, it turned into a full-fledged ethnic conflict lasting for years because there were external elements that instigated the violence from outside the region amid waves of Kuki migration from Myanmar and Naga’s assertion of their indigeneity. Similarly, the Kuki-Paite clashes occurred due to the influence of illegal immigrants. When one recalls any conflict between communities in Manipur, it often traces back to instigation from illegal immigrants. When the presence of illegal immigrants is large in numbers, such crises tend to continue for a long time.
The recent clashes between the Meiteis and Kukis have reached unprecedented levels of intensity and duration. This conflict has seen a significant escalation due to the presence of a large number of illegal immigrants.
The Meiteis, who primarily reside in the Imphal Valley, have historically held significant political and economic influence. Meanwhile, the indigenous tribes inhabit the surrounding hill areas, maintaining distinct cultural identities and territorial claims. They have sometimes experienced conflicts over resources, political representation, and cultural autonomy, yet these disputes have traditionally been resolved through dialogue and local conflict-resolution mechanisms.
The influx of migrants, whether from other parts of India or neighboring countries like Myanmar, introduces new dynamics into the already delicate balance of ethnic relations in Manipur. The influx of migrants, often seeking better economic opportunities or refuge from conflict, can ignite fears among the indigenous populations. For the Meiteis and Kukis, the presence of migrants can be perceived as a threat to their cultural identity, economic stability, and territorial integrity. This fear is not unfounded; migration often leads to increased competition for land, jobs, and resources, exacerbating existing tensions.
Migrants, on the other hand, face significant struggles as they attempt to establish a new homeland. They often find themselves marginalized, struggling for recognition and basic rights. This precarious situation makes them vulnerable to manipulation by various actors with vested interests. Political groups, insurgent factions, and even external powers can exploit the migrants’ plight, using them as pawns to further their agendas.
In Manipur, the struggle for a homeland where migrants are involved can be particularly destabilizing. As migrants seek to carve out a space for themselves, they disrupt the existing socio-political fabric, leading to heightened tensions and conflict. External actors, recognizing this vulnerability, may fuel the conflict by providing support to one group over another, thereby deepening divisions and prolonging the violence.
Indigenous communities, feeling threatened by the influx of migrants, may resort to aggressive measures to protect their interests. Migrants, in turn, may align themselves with different factions to gain a foothold in their new environment. This alignment can lead to an escalation of hostilities, as different groups vie for control and influence.
In conclusion, the presence of migrants, particularly illegal ones, plays a significant role in the escalation of ethnic conflicts in Manipur. As the recent Meitei-Kuki clashes demonstrate, migration has exacerbated existing tensions and led to prolonged violence.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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