05/03/2024, 19.33
Send to a friend

Archbishop of Imphal prays in destroyed churches, marking Manipur's sad anniversary

by Nirmala Carvalho

A year ago, violence broke out between ethnic Meitei and Kuki, tearing apart the northeastern state, with at least 220 deaths. In a situation that remains tense and painful, Archbishop Linus Neli called for three days of fasting and prayer. “[W]e know only too well the present scenario of ethnic segregation,” but we “pray for the day when people of all ethnicities and religious communities can live together”. To this end, we urge “positive action from the State Government and other authorities”.

Imphal (AsiaNews) – Archbishop Linus Neli of Imphal today on social media called on the diocesan community to take part in three days of fasting and prayer for peace and reconciliation to mark the first anniversary of the start of ethnic violence that for a year has beset the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur.

He did so by posting a picture from last February when, alone, on his knees, he raised his arms skyward, in the rubbles of St Joseph's Church in Sugnu, one of hundreds of churches destroyed in Manipur.

“I tell my people: pray for peace and reconciliation; do not give up hope,” the prelate told AsiaNews. “But the instruments to peace are very weak... the agents of peace need to be strengthened and we need positive action from the State Government and other authorities. I pray for God's strength and enlightenment.”

Three days of fasting and prayer, to remember the terrible days between 3 and 5 May 2023, when violence broke out in Imphal, a predominantly Meitei city, and in hill areas, home of ethnic Kuki.

Local politicians fuelled this conflict, sparked by land disputes in this very poor part of India, but it took on a religious mantel since most ethnic Kuki are Christian in a state ruled by Hindu nationalists, the Bharatiya Janata Party BJP), backed by majority Meitei.

The official death toll is at least 220 people, but many sources believe the number to be vastly underestimated. Today, some 60,000 Union troops are trying to keep the two communities apart, while outbreaks of violence sporadically occur in certain areas.

Above all, thousands of people have lost everything and are still displaced. The situation is anything but peaceful and the widespread unease was clearly visible a few days ago, when voting took place in the state as part of the ongoing election to the Indian parliament.

In this context Archbishop Neli urged Catholics in the state to remember this sad anniversary by fasting and prayer.

Although the situation appears relatively calm now, “we know only too well the present scenario of ethnic segregation,” he said in a statement.

“[S]everal hundreds of our people [are] still languishing in great distress, pain and uncertainties in relief camps and in undesirable conditions. Let us persistently pray for the day when people of all ethnicities and religious communities can live together peacefully in this beautiful land of Manipur,” the statement added.

Citing the terrible days from 3 to 5 May 2023, the archbishop urged the faithful to “fall on our knees to intensify our prayers for genuine reconciliation and peace with justice among all fellow human beings.”

Like other groups and organisations, the Catholic Church in Manipur has been at the forefront of humanitarian action, dialogue for peace, and constant prayer for a speedy solution.

Quoting a biblical passage from the prophet Isaiah (Is 57:18-19), Archbishop Neli said: “[W]e firmly believe that God will hear our prayers and heal our land, guide and console our people, give peace to those who are far away and peace to those who are near."

Humbly appealing to all people of good will in Manipur to give peace a chance, the prelate ends by urging Catholics in the Archdiocese of Imphal to engage in intense fasting and prayer in their respective parishes.

He posted some images on social media, showing him praying alone in some of the churches torched and devastated by the violence that remain unusable.

According to the latest figures, 369 churches, as well as hundreds of Hindu temples have been devastated.

The All-Manipur Christian Organisation, which brings together all Christian denominations, held a meeting this morning at the Tangkhul Baptist Church in Dewlahland, a district of Imphal, where they called on the faithful to spend this anniversary in prayer.

These are important gestures so that the memory of what happened twelve months ago does not turn again into a fuse capable of rekindling the fire in Manipur.


Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Syrian refugees: for Beirut and Damascus a source of instability, the EU allocates funds
03/05/2024 11:27
A home for the most vulnerable in Imphal, a sign for Manipur
13/12/2023 16:03
The bishop of Imphal calls for support and peace for people displaced in Manipur
16/05/2023 20:56
Violence in Manipur: women raped and forced to parade naked
20/07/2023 14:42
The roots of Manipur’s multifaceted conflict
04/08/2023 20:09


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”