Indian Catholic Bishops’ Conference head expresses concern over the violence in Manipur
The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) expressed his concern about the escalation of violence against Christians in the northeastern state of Manipur.
CBCI "is deeply saddened and shocked to note the resurgence of persecution of Christians in the peace-loving state of Manipur," said Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, in a statement, May 5.
As many as 41 churches and several houses have been set on fire, and several people have been forced to flee.
"Countermobilization by some Meitei groups against a demonstration of Kukis, where a Kuki war memorial was burnt down, the state police reacting late to a massive gathering of Kukis in some districts, and growing anxiety among the two communities about each other in the recent past are some factors that resulted in the violence that Manipur has faced in the recent days," the prelate said.
As of the writing of this report, the situation remains tense despite the Army and federal armed police forces having brought it under control.
"The Northeast states have set up helplines and have made evacuation plans to take people, mainly students, to safer places. The Catholic Church is very concerned for the people of Manipur, irrespective of which tribe or community they belong to," the CBCI president said.
Archbishop Thazhath also requested all the bishops to hold "prayer services in parishes and religious institutions for peace in the state of Manipur and for warring parties to enter into dialogue and rebuild Manipur into the beautiful peace-loving place that it was."
Manipur's demographics must be understood to comprehend what is going on there. Manipur has 2.85 million residents. The Meitei, Naga, Kuki, and Zomi tribes comprise most of the local ethnic groupings. In Manipur, Meitei people make up 53% of the population. There are then 6500 Naga tribes.
Meitei is predominantly Hindu, Christian, and Muslim. Hindus comprise the bulk of Meitei, whereas Christians comprise a tiny minority. 8% of Meitei's population is Muslim. They go by the name Pangal Meitei.
The Manipur separatist insurgency has been going on for years, and the Meitei people are supporting it. Even though they are a predominantly Hindu tribe, they have been at war with the Indian Army for years, claiming that they desire their own unique nation. They are well-prepared and organized. She is an ancestor of Irom Sharmila Meitei, who fought a hunger strike to resolve conflict in Manipur.
The Nagas and other tribes established militias at the Metei insurrection's start. Everyone is carrying a contemporary automatic firearm. The Naga forces want a particular state, not a special nation, which they are asking for. They complain that most girls treat them poorly. Most of the Naga, Kuki, and Zomi tribes are Christian.
Naga, Kuki, and Zomi had scheduled tribal status until now. Most of the land in Manipur is designated as a tribal reserve. Up to 53% of the population are Meitei, and the remaining 10% live on earth.
The Scheduled Tribe classification of the Meitei people sparked protests from other tribes that saw it as dangerous.
Tribes, including the Meitei, Naga, Kuki, and Zomi, have a history of clashing throughout the previous insurgent period. The Naga, Kuki, and Zomi tribes are fighting alongside the Meitei on one side of the current conflict.
As previously reported, a group of men assaulted five Jesuit missionaries and a student on May 3 near Moirang, Manipur, during the ongoing Manipur violence.
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