Manipur violence: North East India bishops issue appeal for a ‘shared future’
Catholic prelates appeal to the State’s various communities after a month-long violence pitting Meitei against tribal groups. They note that “concessions can be made in view of the common good” while “Both communities concerned know their destinies are intertwined.” Meanwhile, more attacks are reported against Kuki villages; in one, scores of houses and the church were set on fire. Weapons are rumoured to have been taken from armouries.
Guwahati (AsiaNews) – Disturbing news continues to come out of the Indian state of Manipur, shaken since the start of the month by serious violence fuelled by tensions between the mainly Hindu Meitei and mostly Christian hill tribes.
Sources from Imphal have told AsiaNews that a Catholic village, Zou Veng, was attacked. Part of Sugunu Township, which is not from the state capital of Imphal, the village was destroyed, including its church. The tribal colony in Sugunu had more than 100 houses, 60 per cent of which were burnt. Some 150 houses were torched in Langching, another village in Sugunu.
According to unconfirmed reports, about a thousand weapons were looted from the armouries of the Manipur Rifles in Imphal, where the Meitei are concentrated.
Amid this climate, the Catholic bishops of North-East India issued a statement, signed by Archbishop of John Moolachira of Guwahati, appealing to the communities of Manipur. Citing their shared history, they urged them to find a way for a future based on coexistence and reconciliation. We publish it in its entirety below.
We, the Catholic Bishops of the North-eastern region of India – gathered together at Silchar on the occasion of the ordination of Bishop Joachim Walder as the Auxiliary Bishop of Aizawl – had an emergency session of the regional conference to discuss the tragic situation that has arisen in the State of Manipur.
It is with great pain and intense anxiety that we have been following the great tragedies that have taken place in Manipur recently. We grieve with our brothers and sisters who have fallen victims to violence and have suffered as a consequence.
The loss of precious lives and property has been immense. A large number of people have moved out of the state. The atmosphere continues to be tense. Painful incidents are still reported. While we have initiated relief work, we are far from a position to cope with the situation. We cry for help on behalf of those who suffer.
At the same time, we urge all our friends in Manipur to think of their glorious history, when in times past, different communities wholeheartedly collaborated and set a model in various areas of civic life. Their cultural achievements have been many. Their contribution to the nation has been in various areas of life. Great possibilities still remain, if only they put their good will and talents together.
We request intellectuals and creative thinkers of the communities in tensions to think up ways of easing the situation, exploring a constructive way forward and devise ways of settling the differences. They will surely find areas where concessions can be made in view of the common good and collaborative steps initiated in view of a shared future. Both communities concerned know their destinies are intertwined.
May future generations be able to thank the sobriety, balance and wisdom of our present leaders for their timely intervention and the entire society for their wholehearted collaboration.
* Archbishop of Guwahati and president of North East India Regional Bishops’ Council
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)