Northeast Indian bishops on violence in Manipur: ‘Only together is there a future’

of mons. John Moolachira *

A request to the different communities of the state, where the violence between Meitei and tribal groups has not ceased, which is already a month old: “Relieve the tension by finding those common areas in which concessions can be made for the common good. Both communities know that their destinies are intertwined”. New assaults on Kuki Christian villages: a church and dozens of houses burned. Rumors of looting weapons in the barracks.

Guwahati () – Disturbing news continues to arrive from the Indian state of Manipur, which since the beginning of the month has been rocked by serious acts of violence fueled by tensions between the Meitiei ethnic group (mostly Hindu) and the hill tribal communities (mostly Christians). Imphal sources informed that in Sugunu, a town near Imphal, the Catholic village of Zou Veng was destroyed, as well as its church. The Sugunu tribal village is made up of more than 100 houses, 60% of which were burnt down. The town of Lanching, near Sugunu, also has 150 completely burned houses. Other rumors speak of a thousand weapons looted from the headquarters of the Manipur police and reservists in Imphal, the capital where the Meitei presence is concentrated.

In this dire climate, the Catholic Bishops of North East India, through their President – Archbishop of Guwahati, John Moolachira – appealed to the communities of Manipur, recalling their common history and inviting them to find a way forward. within the framework of coexistence and reconciliation. We post it in full below.

We, the Catholic Bishops of the North East Region of India, gathered in Silchar for the ordination of Mons. Joachim Walder as Auxiliary Bishop of Aizawl, we held an emergency session of the Regional Conference to discuss the tragic situation that the State of Manipur is going through.

We have followed with great pain and intense anguish the great tragedies that recently occurred in Manipur. We share the pain of our brothers and sisters who were victims of violence and suffered its consequences.

The loss of precious life and property has been immense. Large numbers of people have left the state. The atmosphere is still tense. Painful incidents continue to be recorded. Although we have started rescue operations, we are far from being able to cope with the situation. We ask for help on behalf of all who suffer.

At the same time, we urge our friends in Manipur to think of its glorious history, when in the past different communities wholeheartedly collaborated and set a pattern in various fields of civic life. Their cultural conquests were many, and they contributed to the nation in various walks of life. There are still great possibilities, if only they can unite their good will and their talents again.

We ask the intellectuals and creative thinkers in the communities that are now in tension to look for ways to alleviate the situation, to explore a constructive path and devise strategies to iron out the differences. They will surely find areas where concessions can be made for the common good and collaborative steps can be taken towards a shared future. Both concerned communities know that their destinies are intertwined.

May future generations be able to thank the sobriety, balance and wisdom of our current leaders for their timely intervention and all of society for their unconditional cooperation.

* Archbishop of Guwahati and Chairman of the Regional Bishops’ Council of North East India

(With the collaboration of Nirmala Carvalho)

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