After violence broke out in India, dozens of churches and homes were vandalised or set on fire.
Violence broke out during a Wednesday protest march in Manipur, a state located in northeastern India.
The majority Hindu non-tribal groups demanded that the Christian tribes be granted the statut de scheduled tribe as defined by the constitution, which would allow them to access jobs and education.
The police responded to the attacks late at night on churches and homes with tear gas and rubber bullets.
In large numbers, the army, paramilitary and police forces have patrolled the affected areas.
The government has banned the internet for 5 days.
Eight districts have been given a dawn-to-dusk ban on gatherings of four or more in public places.
About 9,000 people, from various communities, have been evacuated and taken to safety on military and government premises.
Imphal’s capital was the scene of the worst violence, with mobs attacking tribal people and their homes, as well as churches.
A number of homes and shops belonging to non-tribal residents living in areas with a tribal majority have been burned down.
Social media has posted videos of these attacks.
Tensions about the demand for Scheduled Tribe Status
The tribal opposition has been high to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s government support of the non-tribal majority Meitei for the status as a Scheduled Tribe.
The majority would be given jobs in the government and educational institutions at the expense the minorities.
A rally was held on Wednesday by the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur, which attracted more than 50,000 participants.
As a form of retaliation the Meiteis organized their own protests. Violence and arson followed the clashes.
Manipur, a remote state in northeast India, has been plagued by insurgency and ethnic conflict for decades.
The hills cover almost 90% of the area in the state. They are populated primarily by tribal people of the Naga ethnic group, Kuki, and Mizo, who mainly practice Christianity.
The majority of the population in the state – 53% – is Meitei.
N Biren Singh (chief minister of Manipur) appealed in a video to “everyone to work with the government and the security forces to maintain harmony and peace, just as we have all coexisted over centuries”.