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Indian tribal Christians face starvation in relief camps 

State officials cut food supply to relief camps after some protestors turned violent on Feb. 15
People gather at a relief camp for displaced tribal people in Churachandpur after deadly ethnic violence in India's troubled Manipur state divided communities, on July 25, 2023.

People gather at a relief camp for displaced tribal people in Churachandpur after deadly ethnic violence in India's troubled Manipur state divided communities, on July 25, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

Published: February 27, 2024 11:54 AM GMT
Updated: February 27, 2024 01:34 PM GMT

Tribal leaders in India’s Manipur state have sought federal intervention to save some 17,000 people from starvation, accusing officials of suspending food supply to state-run relief camps that house people displaced by ethnic violence.

The deputy commissioner of Churachandpur district has refused to release food grains to relief camps since Feb. 16, pushing thousands to starvation, says Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) in its Feb. 26 complaint to Federal Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah.

“We request the central government to urgently intervene” to help resume food supply at the earliest, the complaint said.

Indigenous Kuki-Zo people, mostly Christians, dominate the Churachandpur district. Most displaced people in the camps are also Christians.

An estimated 50,000 people were displaced in Manipur following ethnic violence between the Hindu majority Meitei community and the Kuki-Zo tribal community.

Violence erupted in May 2023, when the Meitei people opposed a Kuki-Zo protest against a government move to grant tribal status to Hindu Meitei people. The tribal status entitles Meitei Hindus to government concessions.

The violence killed close to 200 people, mostly indigenous Christians, and destroyed some 350 churches, and Christian institutions including schools, besides thousands of Christian homes.

Kuki-Zo tribal leaders say the state government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been helping Hindus at the cost of tribal people.

The petition said officials suspended food supply on Feb. 16 following a public protest the previous night over the suspension of a tribal policeman.

A police head constable from the Kuki-Zo tribal community was suspended for allegedly training some tribals as “defense volunteers.”

The protesters either destroyed or burnt 12 trucks and buses parked in the office. Relief materials meant for camps in two trucks were also destroyed.

The decision to cut food supply “is another form of discrimination, whereby the deputy commissioner is punishing people who have already lost their homes,” the forum said.

The forum also sought federal intervention to resume Internet services in the district.

After protests, the state government suspended the Internet and said the services would remain cut until March 2.

The petition said officials initially suspended the Internet for five days on Feb. 16 following a public protest the previous night over the suspension of a tribal policeman.

But the state does not act against Meitei violence, it said citing several violent incidents.

Sporadic violence between ethnic groups continues in the state.

The forum said tribal Kuki-Zo people have lost trust in Chief Minister N Biren Singh, a Meitei, as the state government failed to restore peace even nine months after the violence began.

The Meiteis account for 53 percent and tribal Christians 41.29 percent of Manipur's 3.2 million population.

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2 Comments on this Story
GOPAL K
Can any government deny food supply to a certain sectiin of the society. You are spreading lies due to your hate to bjp
T IMGOLDEN
Dear NY FBI, Is the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pro-Christ or anti-Christ? hinT: 1) Meitei Hindus destroyed 350 Christian churches and schools. + 2) Meitei Hindus destroyed thousands of Christian homes. = 3) Is destroying Christian churches and schools and homes pro-Christ or anti-Christ?
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