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Guns, drugs, politics ravaging Manipur in India’s north-east

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Hear why most Manipuris - of different ethnic groups - just want an end to militarisation and violence.

Synopsis: Every fourth Friday of the month, The Straits Times' global contributor Nirmal Ghosh shines a light on Asian perspectives of global and Asian issues with expert guests.

Manipur, in north-east India, is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state of 3.1 million people. In May 2023, violence exploded between the ethnic Meitei and Kuki people, leaving many dead. Ongoing ethnic violence has claimed many more than 200 lives and left tens of thousands displaced. 

Next door in Myanmar, the military regime has at best, tenuous control over its own borders given drug and other kinds of trafficking across the Myanmar-Manipur border. 

Most Manipuris - of different ethnic groups - just want an end to militarisation and violence, says Manipur native Binalaskshmi Nepram. The writer, democracy activist, Sean McBride Peace Prize recipient and founder of several local organisations working for disarmament and peace in Manipur and across the north-east, speaks with host Nirmal Ghosh.

They shine an insider’s light, on the complexities and the traumas of the troubled border state in a volatile region. 

Highlights (click/tap above): 

1:33 Eruption of violence in Manipur the result of decades of neglect and discrimination, a criminal political nexus and violent extremism

4:58 War-within-a-war phenomenon: Manipur had about three to four armed groups in the 70s but that has grown to 60 today

8:09 Why the struggle in the north-east of India is also about identities

14:18 What is the future for children growing up in Manipur? 

16:45 India wants to build a fence along the border with Myanmar to curb trans-border crime and trafficking

Produced by: Nirmal Ghosh ( and Fa’izah Sani

Edited by: Fa’izah Sani

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