Violence-hit Indian state faces medicine, food shortage

Violence-hit Indian state faces medicine, food shortage

Top official in northeastern Manipur state says situation slowly returning to normal

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) — Normalcy is gradually returning to India's violence-hit northeastern state of Manipur amid a shortage of medicine and daily use items, according to local politicians.

At least 70 people have died and 231 others have been injured in the ethnic violence since May 3. Thousands have been displaced with 1,700 houses burned, according to authorities.

Keisham Meghachandra, who heads the country's main opposition Congress party in the state, told Anadolu over the phone that the situation remains tense but no new clashes have been reported.

"People are facing a shortage of medicines, day-to-day food items and even fuel," he said, adding that the situation in the main townships is limping back to normalcy, but in the peripheries, things are tense.

Violence broke out in the state early this month following a court ruling that directed the state government to submit recommendations for the inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe category, which enraged the state's tribal population. The Meitei people are the predominant ethnic group of Manipur and are mostly Hindu.

The Naga and Kuki tribespeople in the state are concerned that if the Maitei community is granted Scheduled Tribe status, their own representation in government jobs and land ownership will shrink.

Nagas and Kukis are mostly Christians.

- Shortage of medicine

Rakesh Rajkumar, president of Manipur Chemists and Druggists Association, told reporters in the capital city Imphal on Friday that the state is witnessing a medicine shortage of around 40% due to the recent violence and blockade of highways.

"The government should take steps to break the blockade of roads," he said.

Local media reported that protesters blocked sections of the highway in one Kuki-dominated district to protest the ethnic violence.

Legislators from the Kuki community in Manipur — last week demanded a separate administration for the community. In a statement, the legislators said living among the Meiteis after the recent violence, "is as good as death for our people."

- Churches attacked

In the recent ethnic violence, there are now reports that several churches have been damaged.

Ginkhosiem Singson, executive secretary of the Northeast-based Evangelical Churches Association, told Anadolu that dozens of churches have been damaged in the recent violence.

"Since there are restrictions in place, there is not much information available regarding the extent of damage," he said, adding that people are now facing a shortage of food items and even clothes.

Lt. Col. Amit Shukla, a defense spokesman based in the northeast, told Anadolu that the situation is returning to normalcy at a "rapid pace."

"Things are under control. However, the deployment of armed and paramilitary forces will continue and the surveillance of both air and ground is continuously happening," he said.

He said for the last few days, there have been no reports of any fresh violence-related incidents and a small number of people are living in the fortified camps.

"Those people who were rescued have now gone back ... a much lower number is present in our camps," said Shukla.

Soon after the violence broke out, the Indian army rescued thousands of people from the affected areas.

As the situation turned deadly, the authorities also imposed a curfew in eight districts of the state. Indian Army troops were called in to maintain peace in the region.

An Indian military statement earlier said over 100 columns of the army and Assam Rifles have been working tirelessly in order to significantly enhance the surveillance capability in the state.

More than 10,000 soldiers have been deployed to control the violence in the state.

​​​​​​​"The deployment will continue for now in the areas (affected by violence)," said Shukla.

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