INDIA: Violence still raging in Manipur

Archbishop Dominic Lumon at the inauguration of the Divine Glory Prayer Tower in Senapati, Manipur.
Archbishop Dominic Lumon at the inauguration of the Divine Glory Prayer Tower in Senapati, Manipur.

There is no end in sight for the violent conflict that erupted in north-east India in May, killing more than 185 people and displacing tens of thousands, according to the local archbishop.

The fighting in parts of Manipur “could go on for months” if the Indian government continues to fail to respond adequately, Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

He said: “It has not stopped. One here, one there, every day things are happening, there are shootings, violence.

“We are hoping that the central government intervenes.

“If it says ‘stop’, I feel that the violence will stop, but if nobody intervenes it will linger on for many more months.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not visited Manipur since the violence broke out, the archbishop said.

He added: “So far, we have not heard him say much, and it has been more than four months.

“Only once, when videos emerged of two girls being paraded naked, did he make a statement, but on the issue of the violence in general he has not said anything so far.”

The deadly conflict began as a series of fights between the Hindu-majority Meitei and the mostly Christian Kuki tribes.

Religious attacks are being carried out in the context of the ethnic conflict, with hundreds of churches and other Church property having been severely damaged.

Archbishop Lumon said: “They destroyed statues, with a vengeance, they vandalised and destroyed everything, then they went away.

“When the fire was put out, they came back again, to make sure that the church was totally destroyed.

“It does not belong only to Kukis, it belongs to all of us.”

The archbishop highlighted that Meitei Christians were also targeted by their own community.

He said: “We can see that they are acting also out of hatred for Christianity, because Meitei churches were destroyed and non-Kuki religious leaders are also running from Imphal.”

Archbishop Lumon said that the Church has been encouraging dialogue among religious leaders to try and defuse the tension.

He said: “We are going to bring the heads of both the communities together, to tell the gangs to stop the violence.

“The path to peace is only through dialogue, and that is what we are going to stress.

“Besides that, we can only appeal to the local government, and to the central government, to intervene and to stop the violence.”

The archbishop also called on the international community to pray for peace and to prevent the situation from becoming another forgotten conflict.

When the conflicts began, ACN sent emergency aid to help the local Church to provide support for the victims of the violence.

The Catholic Church has been providing aid to thousands of people, including about 2,400 displaced families.


With thanks to Filipe d’Avillez & Maria Lozano