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Christians face conversion threat in riot-hit Indian state

Meitei Christians in Manipur are being asked to embrace Hinduism, say Christian leaders
A girl evacuated by the Indian army during the ethnic riots in Manipur state embraces her mother (second right) after reuniting at a temporary shelter at the Leimakhong Army Cantonment in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur on May 10

A girl evacuated by the Indian army during the ethnic riots in Manipur state embraces her mother (second right) after reuniting at a temporary shelter at the Leimakhong Army Cantonment in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur on May 10. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 25, 2023 08:56 AM GMT

A group of Christians in India’s strife-torn northeastern state faces hostility for not abandoning their faith to become Hindus as fresh violence was reported on May 22.

Authorities in Manipur state beefed up security and extended a curfew three weeks after a riot broke out on May 3 between Kukil tribal group and the state's majority Meitei community.

Tension continues as some Meitei people are forcing Christians among them to recant their faith and join Hinduism, said a senior Church official. 

Meitiei community, which forms 53 percent of the state's 3.2 million people are mostly Hindus, but a tiny minority of them are Christians, mostly Protestants.     

“Their Hindu brothers are asking them [Meitei Christians] to return to Hinduism, failing which they threaten to make their life difficult,” the Church official said after attending an internal meeting on May 22.

Meitei Christians "are now facing the worst crisis for their existence,” said the Church official, who requested anonymity.

Most Meitie Christian worship in house churches but some 240 of their house churches were destroyed.

In such a situation it is difficult for them to keep their faith alive, the official said.

The savage riot killed more than 70 people, injured 231 others, and damaged 1,700 houses, besides displacing over 45,000 people, local reports said.

The riot began when Kuki and other tribal people in the state protested a plan to list Meitei people in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category to help them benefit from educational and job quotas under India’s affirmative action program.

Most Kuki people and other tribals are Christians and they together make up 41.29 percent of the population.

The priest said attempts to convert Christian Meiteis to Hinduism are real.

Meitei people live within a limited area in the state's valley and they cannot move into hills, where the Kuki people dominate.

Meitei Christians have to “live with their Hindu brothers” in the valley. Sometimes there could be only one or two Meitei Christians in a whole village, the official said explaining the threat they face. 

A government led by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) runs the state government. The party and its Hindu supporting groups work to turn India into a nation of Hindu hegemony.  

Fresh violence started in Manipur’s capital Imphal on May 22 after a mob set on fire a few abandoned homes belonging to the Kuki community, most of them tribal Christians.

Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal based in the state capital, said the government and community leaders "should take serious measures to restore peace and harmony in the state."

Archbishop Lumon said continuing violence challenges the future of the state.

“20 days are over after the state witnessed one of the worst sectarian violence, but still peace is elusive," the prelate said in a message on May 23.

“Whatever has happened, happened. Now the priority must be to restore confidence among each other and rebuild the shattered life," he said. 

Kuldiep Singh, the state security advisor, told the media that mass combing operations are being conducted to nab those behind the fresh round of attacks.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh said all communities, including the 34 tribal groups, will have to live together in the state.

Singh, during the observance of Anti-Terrorism Day on May 21 in the capital Imphal, admitted lapses on the part of his government that led to the sectarian violence in Manipur, which borders civil war-hit Myanmar. 

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40 Comments on this Story
DEVANG SHETH
What is wrong if people come back to their ORIGINAL religion? They were converted from Hindu to Christian, so there is nothing in COMEBACK.
PAT
No one's saying conversion is wrong. Read the article and use your brain about what the article is talking about. It's talking about threats being used to force people to convert. That's what Hindu groups have been doing. You and the other jebrony in the comment section are Hindus and have come up on catholic news articles. That itself shows both are going to puke nonsense without reading the article.
JESSIE
People must want to embrace any religion on their own free will. It should not be forced onto anyone.
MAWI
Hinduism was never the original religion of the Meiteis. They originally belonged to the Sanamahi faith, from which they were CONVERTED to Hinduism. Please get your facts right before passing such blatant comments!
JOAQUIM
U dirty mind people r doing force conversation letthem decide what religion they want to follow who r u idiots 2 ask them to become hindu ,take some good treatment from dr regarding mental health.
ANTHONY
You hypocrite hindu will never fault conversion of Christian to hindu even by force but you will shout and dance upside down if the hindu converts to Christianity even by own will. When will you learn equal justice which this country is known for?
SHARIL ABHISHEK
We talking about forced conversion which is wrong. You cannot force anyone to be a Hindu or Christian no matter what they were born into. Your faith grows with your belief and experience. Like that A R Rehman also started believing in Allah doesn't give you the right to hit him. You follow what you think is good for you, in the same way, everyone should be allowed to follow or pray to the one whom they want to. Jesus was real it's the most recent scripture 2000 years ago and even before Europe, India had Christians so it's not that Hindus own India. We all have a part. And, religion is very very personal to one neither you, I nor the parents who gave birth has a right to tell whom to believe.
IRSHAD
Beta then u can come back to islam we will accept u.. Every individual has right to worship & follow any religion then why forcing someone is Ok. If you people have guts try converting Muslims??
ANOOP
There is nothing wrong,except u forget that Hinduism is not their original religion.Their native religion is sanamihism.Second ,the problem here is of forceful conversion which is never ok regardless of religion.
DANIEL SINGH
No one who comes to true faith in the one true God Yehovah and His Messiah Jesus will ever return to Hinduism or any other religion. It won't happen. Not Ever. You might as well ask true christians to return to worshipping Mickey Mouse. It would be a useless effort on your part.
PUSHPARAJ
What is your problem if they remain as Christians worshipping the true living God?
DEVANG SHETH
Why Christians want to convert Hindus only? Why they actually want to convert? Let Jusus come & live happily. We are happy with our Lord.
DEVANG SHETH
We are, what we were. You are converted to Muslims or Christians. Enjoy your life, praying others God.
KRISHNANAND
Your article is biased....conversion is always one way, towards Christianity...pls refrain from sensational writings.. India is a self accommodating peaceful country, basis Hinduism(= naturally secular and peaceful coexistance will all)...thankyou
ANANTH
Forced conversion is not possible at all. Will you convert your religion if someone forces you? Its an empty argument, inhuman and hatred...
PAUL IANKAP
Thankyou UCA news for bringing this into light hope we christian get help and support from the world.. after 19 days since the violence/massacre broke out and the CM of Manipur.. announce for normalcy at the central Govt since CM is the mastermind behind all this(ethnic cleansing).. there was another 4 house and 1 church of KUKI’s burned again…
PRANAB ROY CHOWDHURY
First of all this is false propaganda by your news maker. If it happens as you described,this is simply return back to their original forefathers faith. Conversation is no place in Hinduism and it is you like Christian and Moslim are very much fond of it and the very day of your birth of religion it is continuously happening. Those who come back to Hinduism they are coming to their own will and no pressure of any kind throws upon them. For example you see the foreign lakhs of saints in ISCON.
NOT PROPAGANDA
Your comment is the propaganda one. No religion should be forced on anyone. - period. Violence if you don’t convert should be a crime. If Hinduism is such a peaceful religion why are the Hindus performing such violent acts?
BIJU
Modi has gone to Australia and is asking the prime minister of Australia to look in to the issue of Hindu temples being destroyed by Sikhs, shameless Character, he does not even comment on the incidents against Christianity and Muslims
DEVANG SHETH
Can you name any Christian King who ruled in Bharat? You people were Hindus & now Converted Christians ????????. Go to Pakistan & see the condition of your Converted Christians & Churches. Make any comment on it if you have guts. Pastor
MUKESH
rather than hindus, christians converted lot more hindus....
DON
The issue here is force conversion,by hindus. If you're Hindu and someone force you to eat beef, would you?
ABRAHAM
If asked jesus Christ,, christ will reply, for peace and Harmony, its better to rejoin your community, i will agree for it, your peace harmony and well being is more important than Christianity, by the way i told my deciples to go in search of my community members lost tribes of Israel,, not other religious communities, you people have Sanathana Dharma which is more precious teaching in this universe,, but my people are not yet ready for it,, so people who are following Sanathana Dharma please follow it,,, that is the highest level,,,,, love ,, jesus
PEACE BOY
People are not following sanatana dharma rules its mention in our scriptures to not force someone too convert in hinduism if you think any our god will like this than no you will be punished in hell for kforcing others to convert t His is not hindu rule this is terriorism Pls let other religion live peacefully
SURESH
The Christians of Manipur are converts themselves.If they change their heart and want come back to their real religion what's bothering you.
RUBEN BAGH
Please tell me what is their true religion?Is Hinduism truly born in India or imported from outside and claiming to be as Indian,so that they can dominate other religions.
XYZ
How much money West is peddling to pay salaries to the priests. Stop that. Let locals sponsor them if they like. Ask your paid media to write about Kerala story.
ROMBU
What about kuki hindus???
YUMKHAM THALAJIT SINGH
This website is spreading fake news , the real reason is ethnic strife and the people at fault are kukis who are settling people from Myanmar to bolster their population . Recently kuki militants also attacked Naga villages. It is clear that Christian lobby is trying hard to sell this As religious strife as the state government is of BJP. Never forget the clashes of Nagas and Kukis of 90S era . When both Christian community butchers each other . What was the reason for that clash , when Christian brothers fought ,does this site has any answer? During those riots it was we meeteis who helped those Kukis
JC
All paid news. Nothing surprising. Read all the comments and agree with this gentleman to some extent. The tribal instincts are still there - unfortunately. Even Christianity could not help much. On the political side you will always have a point, right or wrong and gullible people will take advantage of the situation. But everybody is forgetting the simple fact - human qualities of belonging, compassion and respect for each other. No matter whoever you are and whatever you speak about, we all have forgotten about being a human. In today's world, animals seem to have better qualities than us humans. Those who can understand - please help each other - and for the rest of the lot may God save you.
SEMPRASH HEIKHAM
Well, I'm from Manipur & this article is totally baseless propaganda engineered by some illegal immigrants from Myanmar to ignite tensions among the people of different religions of manipur. For you information, the ongoing riots in the state manipur is not related with religion. Please, do some homework and publish genuine work next time. Thank you
VARUNRAJ
In India, once a land of only Hindus has faced Islamic invasion followed by Britain and Portuguese occupation who brought in missionaries to set up their conversion factories. They were granted vast lands to set up churches and educational institutions. The Hindu population of India is reducing at alarming rate because of these conversion factories. Do your research on the population statistics. Show facts and don't simply share agenda to critisze Hindus.
ANUP
When Christians force others, misleading others to become Christian that is fine for you. In fact reverting to original faith is the right of community.
RADHE
Shame on these people, 2 bori chawal ke liye apna original identity chhod dete hain, there is only one religion hinduism rest all are beliefs & identity fake narratives only.
ASHLEY MACHADO
My Take On Religious Conversions Is As Follows. (1) It One’s Fundamental Right To Practice A Religion or Philosophy Of One's Choice.(2)With The Forced Conversion, One Cannot Force A Particular Mind set, Philosophy , Line Of Thinking, Practice &/Or Belief For Any Length Of Time. One Cannot Change One’s Brain Wiring. The Change If Any, Must Happen Freely or From Within. A Forced Religious Conversion Is Against One's Fundamental Right To Practice A Belief, Religion, Philosophy Of One's Choice. (3) Folks, With Forced Conversion, If One Sells GARBAGE, There Will Be NO TAKERS. One Can Try & Find Out For Oneself. (4) If A System Professes Back To the Stone Age, Child Marriages & Child Killings ; Female Foeticide & Infanticide; Sati; Honour Killings; Polygamy; Caste Systems; Illiteracy; Poverty & More, Are Not Virtues or Qualifications Which One Would Embrace Willingly. (5) Also I Must say That For Some or Most Of The Folks, I Guess Their Faith or Belief Is In Nature. To Sum Up, I Must Say That All Of Us Are Travellers In Transit On This Earth, One’s One way, No return, Visa To Leave This Earth or Planet Is Ready, Only The Date, Time, Destination & To Whom One May or May Not Meet & Labelled As God, Is Unknown. So Folks, Make The Best Of What You Have In LIFE, Help Each Other, Move On & Live Peacefully. Ashley Machado B.E.; MIE;
SUBHOJIT
U guys need to realise that u can't indulge in violence without getting paid back with the same coin. Did u guys really think that u could go around looting, burning Hindu houses and temples, killing without any retaliation?
ANURAG MATHUR
This is such a biased news app and website, everybody knows that Hinduism and Hindu people never force anyone to convert. Hindu community in Manipur facing backlash from Christian community, by vandalising their temples, throwing Hindus out of their houses, forcing Hindus to leave Manipur. Very disgusting and shame on those Christian leaders, who are spreading biased and fake information, to spread hatred for their own benefit. Shame on you uca news, for spreading biased anti-Indian and anti-hindu news. ????????
VATSAL RATHOD
Stop selling fake news. It's the other way round. Christians are the ones who are rioting and killing innocent Hindus. "Pro-Hindu government" term is itself a propoganda.
LOGICIAN
Hinduism derived from word Hindi is not a religion at all but a geographical definition for a set of people living on the other side of river Sindhu. CASTE is religion in India. god for one is devil for another and vice versa. Even Lingayat and nature worshipper are recognised as Hindus whereas they shun it. The latest census also limiting to 6 religions, why someone is forced to select Hinduism which is a very loose term? Hardly they can claim Sanatan to Hinduism and not more than that. They don't marry, intermingle or allow them in their reserved temples. Dalits have their own identity and religion. By the way this broad division was done by design, other wise Islam would lay claim for majority religion, which actually is a fact.
MAYV
Forcing to get converted to other religion is absolutely wrong. People have thier rights to follow the religion they want to. All the people of India should accept and respect all the religious communities.
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