Dozens of churches and homes have been attacked, vandalized and burned after violence erupted in India.
Violence erupted in the northeastern state of Manipur during a protest march on Wednesday.
Thousands of Christian tribal people were opposing a request by the predominantly Hindu non-tribal group for constitutionally defined status as a Scheduled Tribe, which can bring with it access to jobs and education.
Police responded to attacks on homes and churches late at night with multiple canisters of tear gas and rubber bullets.
Army, paramilitary forces and police came out in large numbers to patrol the affected areas.
The government suspended the internet for five days.
A dawn-to-dusk curfew was imposed in eight districts and a law enacted prohibiting four or more people from gathering in a public place.
Some 9,000 people from different communities were evacuated to safety at military and government premises.
The worst violence took place in the state capital, Imphal, where mobs went on a rampage attacking tribal people, their homes and churches.
Several homes and shops of non-tribal people living in predominantly tribal areas were also attacked and burned.
Videos of these attacks have been posted on social media.
Tensions over claiming Scheduled Tribe status
Tensions are high over tribal opposition to the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s backing of a demand by the majority non-tribal Meitei community for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.
It would reserve jobs in government and educational institutions for members of the majority group at the expense of the minority.
Tribal groups opposed the move and a student union, the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM), held a rally on Wednesday bringing together more than 50,000 people.
In retaliation, the Meiteis staged their own protests. The clashes then ended in violence and arson.
Decades of disruption
The remote state of Manipur has seen decades of turmoil in the form of insurgency, ethnic strife and communal tension.
The hills make up almost 90% of the geographical area of the state and are mainly populated by tribal people of the Naga, Kuki and Mizo ethnic clans who mainly follow Christianity.
While the valley is mostly populated by Meitei, who are predominantly Hindus and make up the majority – 53% – of the state’s population.
In a video, N Biren Singh, Manipur’s Chief Minister, called on “everyone to cooperate with the government and security forces to maintain peace and harmony, as we have all co-existed for centuries.”