The Manipur government on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that it would not be possible to hold the civil services examinations in the state this year, given the precarious security situation there, reported Bar and Bench.

The northeastern state has been gripped by ethnic clashes between the dominant Meitei and the tribal Kuki communities since May last year. The ethnic violence has killed 219 persons and displaced 60,000 people since May 3, according to figures released by the state government last month.

The Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2024, will be held on May 26 by the Union Public Service Commission.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the Zomi Students Federation that had sought a direction to the state government to make alternative arrangements for tribal candidates from Manipur’s hill districts – Churachandpur and Kangpokpi – who are planning to appear for the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination and the Indian Forest Service (Preliminary) Examination.

The petition contended that due to the prevailing law and order situation and the geographic and demographic separation in Manipur, it is difficult for the Kuki-Zomi tribal candidates to travel to Imphal for the examination, reported Live Law.

The state government also said that it would not be “appropriate” to provide alternative exam centres for the tribal students in the hill districts of Churachandpur and Kangpokpi.

The members of the Meitei community account for 60% of the state’s population and are largely concentrated in the Imphal Valley. Manipur’s two major tribal communities – the Kukis and the Nagas – live in the hill districts.

The plea also sought the court’s direction to the Union Public Service Commission to reopen the application portal to allow candidates to opt for a centre of their choice in Manipur.

The state government instead suggested that the aspirants from Manipur’s tribal districts be assigned to the nearest centres outside the state, as was done last year. The Manipur government gave an undertaking that it would provide travel allowances to the candidates from the districts.

“It is a day-long exam conducted in 2 sessions of 3 hours each thereby, enhancing the risk of any negative / adverse fall-out due to unstable law and order situation and polarised public sentiment on ethnic lines,” the state government told the court.

“The incident highlights that it may not always be feasible to use force in such peculiar situation and especially in a civilian setting,” the state told the court.

The state’s response also mentioned an attack by “extremist elements” against the offices of deputy commissioner and the superintendent of police, and the home of the deputy commissioner in Churachandpur, on February 15.

The mob was protesting the police’s suspension of a head constable from the Kuki-Zo community after he was allegedly seen with armed men in a video.