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Manipur's Bloody Conflict

A rebel soldier in India's North Eastern state of Manipur
Crossing Continents
Thursday 9 August 2007
At 1102 BST on BBC Radio 4

On August 15th this year, India will celebrate its 60th anniversary of independence but in the remote state of Manipur, a boycott will be in place.

Ironically, it is the Indians themselves whom many in this former kingdom see as the colonizers.

Racially, the people are more similar to South East Asians.

For nearly three decades, violent separatist groups have fought the Indian army in a battle for their own independence. Their bloody clashes have left thousands dead yet are rarely reported in the Western media.

Manipur lies in India's Northeast, an isolated area that borders Burma, China, Bangladesh and Bhutan and is only connected to mainland India by a narrow 22km pass known colloquially as the "chicken's neck".

The entire region is racked by insurgency. Up to 100 rebel armies are fighting separate guerrilla wars against the Indian military for a complex web of grievances ranging from racial, cultural and linguistic differences to profound distrust of the New Delhi government.

Currently there are over 20 insurgent groups operating in Manipur. One of the largest and most powerful outfits is the United National Liberation Front or UNLF who are fighting for an independent Manipur.

Tanya Datta travelled by car and canoe to meet the rebels at a secret destination deep within flooded paddy fields.

The rebel groups exert huge, and sometimes coercive, influence over the population. Extortion is rampant and increasingly, militants issue diktats regarding the social behaviour of Manipuris.

In Crossing Continents, Tanya Datta explores allegations of alienation, extortion and human rights abuses in Manipur. Why has violence become a way of life in the state?

BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 1102 BST.

It will be repeated on Monday, 13 August at 2030 BST.

Presenter: Tanya Datta
Producer: Mukul Devichand
Editor: Maria Balinska


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SEE ALSO
India's 'forgotten' war
08 Aug 07 |  Crossing Continents
Country profile: India
26 Jul 07 |  Country profiles
Tanya Datta: Biography
23 Mar 05 |  Crossing Continents

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