Rival ethnic groups fired at each other in new violence in India’s remote northeast that left at least nine people dead and some injured, officials said Wednesday. Security forces rushed to Khamenlok village in Manipur state’s Kangpokpi district after clashes broke out Tuesday night between the Kuki and Meitei communities, said L. Sushindro, a state government minister.
Police found nine bodies early Wednesday, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. Three people were reported missing, the officer said.
On Wednesday, a mob burned the home of state Industry and Commerce Minister Nemcha Kipgen in Imphal, the state capital, the officer said. Kipgen, a Kuki, and her family were not at home at the time of the attack.
At least 100 people have been killed in severe ethnic clashes in Manipur state since May 3, and thousands of homes have been burned and shops and businesses vandalized.
Authorities have moved nearly 40,000 people from troubled areas to safer places.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah visited the state early this month and met community leaders in an attempt to restore peace.
The violence started last month after protests by more than 50,000 Kukis and members of other predominantly Christian tribal communities in Churachandpur and adjoining districts in Manipur state.
They oppose the majority Meitei Hindu community’s demand for a special status that would give them benefits including the right to farm on forest land, cheap bank loans, and health and educational facilities, as well as a specified quota of government jobs.
Minority hill community leaders say the Meitei community is comparatively well-off and that granting them more privileges would be unfair.
The Meiteis say employment quotas and other benefits for tribespeople would be protected.
Two-thirds of the state’s 2.5 million people live in a valley that comprises roughly 10% of the state’s total area. The Meiteis are Hindus while rival groups, including the Kuki and other tribes, are mostly Christian and mainly live in the surrounding hill districts. Ethnic Muslims constitute about 8% of the state population.
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