On 21st September 1949, Manipur, which was once an Independent Princely State, was merged with the Indian Union. The state was taken over by the British in 1891. Manipur subsequently became a Union territory of India in 1962 and achieved full statehood in 1972. Moreover, Article 371C of the Indian Constitution provides protection to tribal areas and prohibits people from the valley or outside buying land in hill districts inhabited by Scheduled Tribes (ST). However, the attempt to alter the ST status is fueled by the political desire of the Hindutva movement, with an objective to acquire resources/land of the ST community for the Meitei community (predominantly Hindus).
The RSS, which has mentored Modi, has plans to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra, creating a Hindutivized polity that threatens the communal diversity of the country. As a result, religious minorities like Muslims, who make up 14.23% of the total population (over 200 million), are being oppressed and subdued.
Hindu extremists have committed heinous acts like the Gujarat pogrom, Delhi riots, and Babri Mosque demolition. The recent daylight murder of Atiq Ahmed and his brother Ashraf in police custody by Hindu goons is just the latest example. Similarly, Dalits (over 20.14 million population) are also being treated as sub-humans with frequent occurrences of rape/molestation of Dalit women, harassment/murder of Dalit men, and social discrimination against them- such as not being allowed to use the same water tape as Brahmins.
Despite the fact that Christians in India make up only 2.3% of the population, they are facing severe persecution due to anti-conversion laws passed by BJP-ruled states. This has resulted in attacks on bishops, religious leaders, and even nuns. In addition, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat dehumanized Noble Laureate Mother Teresa, accusing her of proselytizing and claiming she didn’t deserve the Nobel Prize.
The recent case of Indian Catholic priest Stan Swamy, who was imprisoned under anti-terror law and died in custody, illustrates the lack of attention given by Prime Minister Modi to the persecution of Christians. This is exemplified by the case of Manipur, which has a diverse religious population, including 41.29% Christians, yet Christian victims are frequently ignored.
The predominantly Christian ST population in Manipur is facing targeting due to their opposition towards the High Court’s decision to award ST status to the predominantly Hindu Meiteis community. The tribal population in Manipur has certain privileges protected under Article 371C, including job quotas, admission in educational institutes, and a bar on non-Scheduled Tribes from buying land in hill districts.
The BJP-led Manipur State government is seeking to undo Article 371C, similar to Modi’s actions in IIOJK, which has led the ST (Christians) to demand for a separate or independent state. Therefore, the situation in Manipur justifies the demand for a separate or independent state.