Christians in Indian state of Manipur landed in hot water when ethno-religious conflict erupted as a result of a peaceful protest by the largely Christian minority tribes in the region.
The bloody conflict has thus far resulted in 160 deaths according to unofficial stats. However, official data reveals that 60 people have been killed in the conflicts. The majority of those who perished included tribal Christians. “For two, three days, it was just anarchy,” a local Christian was quoted saying by an international watchdog. “And especially the Christians were targeted. Almost all the churches have been burned down and reduced to ashes.”
Local media reported that the peaceful protest held in the city of Churachandpur located in south Manipur, was disrupted when a truck hit a tribal motorcycle. Agitated protestors beat up truck’s Meitei driver. Following this, the Meiteis torched a tribal war memorial in retaliation, thus triggering the widespread violence between the tribals and Meiteis that soon engulfed the Imphal valley predominantly dominated by the Meiteis.
The violence left the local Church in shock and despair as they had to flee in orer to save their lives. Some 50,000 tribals including majority of Christians were displaced along with dozens of churches and other institutions looted and torched. “This violence is the worst in the history of Manipur,” Archbishop of Imphal, told international media. There are reports that more than 40 churches of different denominations had been desecrated and torched across the state.
Seeing the gravity of the situation, on May 8 the Supreme Court of India heard the case addressing the violence in Manipur, and issued an order for “protection of displaced persons and religious places of worship.” “We have made our concern explicit about the need for protection of people and property and the need for restitution and stabilization. This is a humanitarian problem. We are concerned deeply about the loss of life and property,” Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud told the federal and Manipur governments both controlled by BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party).