Modi-Shah failed to stop Manipur violence? What is the meaning of Bhagwat's statement, is there pressure cooker theory behind caste conflict?

Ananya Shroff
11 Min Read

New Delhi: Recently, more than 70 houses of one community were burnt in the violence that erupted after the murder of an elderly person in Jiribam district of Manipur. The militants also set fire to two police posts. Ethnic violence has been going on in Manipur since May 2023. More than 200 people have lost their lives in the ethnic conflict between the Meitei and Kuki living in the hilly areas. Jiribam, with a diverse ethnic composition including Meitei, Muslim, Naga, Kuki and non-Manipuri, had remained untouched by ethnic conflict till now. Now, just after Narendra Modi took oath for the third time, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has also said that the northeastern state of Manipur has been burning in the fire of violence for a year. Manipur has been waiting for peace for a year. This should be considered on priority. Today we will understand why such atrocities are committed on women, children or elderly of other communities during war or ethnic conflict.

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So far 67 thousand people have become homeless in Manipur violence

According to the report released by Geneva's Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), 69 thousand people were displaced in South Asia in 2023. Of these, 97 percent i.e. 67 thousand people were those who had to leave their homes due to violence in Manipur. For the first time since 2018, such a large number of displacements were seen in India due to violence. In March 2023, the Manipur High Court had asked the central government to send recommendations to include the Meitei community in the Scheduled Caste (ST). After this, the Kuki community started protests in the hill districts of the state.

4 principles behind destroying other communities

According to South Asia University (SAARC University) professor Dhananjay Tripathi, American strategist and author Jonathan Gottschall has mentioned these four theories in his book 'Explaining Wartime Rape: The Journal of Sex Research' and Suzanne Brownmiller in her book 'Against Our Will'. All these theories have been mentioned in the study of Professor Sonia Tiemann of Union College, New York. It is said that there are four theories behind the killing of men and rape or enslavement of women in ethnic conflict, war or communal riots. These are called pressure cooker theory, cultural pathology theory, systematic or strategic rape theory and feminist theory. Let us understand these four theories one by one.

Pressure cooker theory: desperation leads to attacks on other women

Jonathan explains that during any war, civil war or ethnic conflict, people always have fear, tension and hope for change and improvement in the situation. These feelings create anger in a community and those who seem most vulnerable to them, such as women, children or the elderly, become their targets. According to Professor Dhananjay Tripathi, the same thing is happening in Manipur. People of one community show themselves as powerful men by killing or raping women of the other community.

Strategic rape theory: rape to humiliate the enemy

According to Professor Dhananjay Tripathi, whether it is the Yugoslav war, the mass rape in Rwanda or the incidents in Manipur, rape has been used as a weapon everywhere. Rape by soldiers or other groups is a part of a plan and a weapon in such wars. In her book 'Against Our Will', Suzanne Brownmiller says that the feeling of winning over others provokes a man to rape. His mentality comes out the most on such days. At the same time, Cynthia Enloe, author of Maneuvers, says that rape is the most poisonous and dangerous weapon during wars. Mostly there is a political mind behind it.

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Feminist theory: Rape is caused by hatred towards women

This theory talks about male domination. In which rape, whether it is during war or peace time, is always motivated by the desire of men to dominate women. In fact, the rapist hates women. He does not trust the woman, ignores her gender and wants to dominate her. Professor Dhananjay Tripathi says that through rape, the man wants to show his strength, behind which is hidden the frustration of suppressing and dominating the woman for years.

Expert on Manipur violence

Cultural distortion theory: Undervaluing women

The book says that according to the Cultural Pathology Theory, if there is no feeling of respect for women, then there will be no liberal attitude towards other cultures or communities. Here the feeling of racial superiority will dominate. That is, an attempt to show one's own culture as good and an attempt to show the culture of others as inferior. In such a society, the mentality of rape is more during racial conflict. In Christina Lamb's book 'Our Bodies, Their Battlefields: War Through the Lives of Women', the structure of society has been held responsible for the rape of women.

Four theories behind oppression of women in Manipur

News of rape and murder of women have become common in Manipur. Professor Dhananjay Tripathi says that the reasons for the atrocities against women in Manipur can be traced to these four principles. Manipur's society has been in turmoil for a long time due to this problem, which has created a situation like a pressure cooker. When the conflict reached its peak, incidents like strategic rape were seen. Examples of this principle can be seen all over the world.

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Rest houses were built in China and women were enslaved

The strategic rape theory was adopted the most by the Japanese during the Second World War. Mass rape was the most preferred method of the Japanese Imperial Army. They also called it the Comfort Women System. However, the Japanese government always denied these allegations, but since the 1990s, when the painful stories of these comfort women i.e. sex slaves came to the world, people came to know about the atrocities of the Japanese. Later, China also adopted it, where there were comfort stations. In these comfort stations, Chinese soldiers would rest and rape the captured women. In Nanjing, women were brutally made sex slaves.

When the Supreme Court said- this is the most disgusting insult to the Constitution

On July 20 last year, PM Narendra Modi had to say on the Manipur issue that the incident in Manipur is shameful for any civilized society. The country is being insulted. The culprits will not be spared. At the same time, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had said that the use of women as weapons during ethnic conflict can never be accepted. This is the most disgusting insult to the Constitution.

What does Bhagwat's statement on Manipur violence mean?

Professor Dhananjay Tripathi says that in Manipur, most of the population of the Meitei community is Hindu. BJP is in power there. But the RSS has been trying its best to expand its reach in the rest of the Northeast states for years, as most of the tribal groups are dominated by Christianity. Apart from this, this state is also important in terms of increasing its influence in the rest of the Northeast states and stopping Bangladeshi infiltration from neighboring states like Tripura.

Mohan Bhagwat

Politically powerful Meitei, weak Kuki

The non-tribal Meitei community dominates 10 percent of Manipur's land. The Meitei community accounts for more than 64 percent of Manipur's total population. Out of Manipur's total 60 MLAs, 40 MLAs are from this community. At the same time, 35 percent of the recognized tribes of the state live in 90 percent of the hilly geographical area. However, only 20 MLAs from these tribes reach the assembly. A large part of the Meitei community is Hindu and the rest are Muslims. The 33 communities that have received tribal status are known as Naga and Kuki tribes. Both these tribes are mainly Christians.

Why are other tribes against Meitei?

The existing tribal groups of Manipur say that the Meitei have demographic and political dominance. Apart from this, they are also ahead in other matters including literacy. The tribal groups here feel that if the Meitei also get the status of tribe, then the job opportunities for them will decrease and they will start buying land even on the mountains. In such a situation, they will become more marginalized. That is why the proposal to give Scheduled Caste status to the Meitei is being opposed by the Kuki tribes.

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