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'Hidden agendas' behind ethnic conflict in Indian state

Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal in Manipur says 'vested interests have to be recognized and resisted'
Rubbles are seen after the houses were set on fire and vandalized by mobs in Khumujamba village, on the outskirts of Churachandpur in the violence-hit northeastern Indian state of Manipur, on May 9

Rubbles are seen after the houses were set on fire and vandalized by mobs in Khumujamba village, on the outskirts of Churachandpur in the violence-hit northeastern Indian state of Manipur, on May 9. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 27, 2023 06:02 AM GMT
Updated: May 27, 2023 06:17 AM GMT

Divisive ideologies and agendas are the root cause of an ethnic conflict that has led to violence against Christians and attacks on churches in India's northeastern state of Manipur, said Indian Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal, the state's capital city.

"Hidden agendas and ideologies contrary to the constitutional and democratic values often infiltrate into the region and the state which jeopardizes the peaceful coexistence and religious harmony of the state and the region," Archbishop Lumon told OSV News on May 24.

"Outside forces with hidden agendas to disturb communal harmony and vested interests have to be recognized and resisted," he said.

The violence began in early May when ethnic tribal groups, primarily Christian, protested against a High Court decision granting "Scheduled Tribe" status to the majority Meithei Hindu community.

Scheduled Tribes are Indigenous tribal groups that are given reservation status under India's constitution. Traditionally disadvantaged communities recognized as Scheduled Tribes are guaranteed political representation, and receive benefits such as education and employment.

Answering questions from OSV News via email, Archbishop Lumon explained that opposition to the Meithei community's inclusion in the list of Scheduled Tribes also would grant them the right to own land in ethnic tribal areas and is an issue that is at the "heart of the violence in Manipur."

He also cited disparity in land distribution and in political representation in favor of the Meithei community as reasons for escalating tensions in the region. According to UCA News, recent riots claimed the lives of over 70 people and left tens of thousands of people displaced.

Anger toward tribal Christians and their opposition toward the Meithei's granting of reservation status has led to attacks on homes and Christian places of worship, the archbishop said.

Houses belonging to Christians "are burned, vandalized and looted. They have lost their land, houses, belongings, employment opportunities and the education of their children. It is rather difficult to quantify the total damage and losses," Archbishop Lumon told OSV News.

He also said that as of now, an estimated 260 churches "have been gutted down," including six Catholic churches and one pastoral training center.

"The loss for the Catholic Church has been calculated to the tune of 150 million Rupees ($1.8 million)" and "the government has not given any assurance that they would compensate for the losses," the archbishop said.

"This unprecedented social current has personally affected me and the archdiocese. Many of my church personnel have undergone traumatic experiences during the mob violence," he added.

Nevertheless, Archbishop Lumon lamented the loss of both Christian and Hindu lives in the conflict and said that despite government-imposed curfews and internet disruptions, the Archdiocese of Imphal is "trying its best to take stock of the situation and is rolling out a number of relief services to the suffering."

"A number of philanthropic and social service organizations have been contacted for external help," he said. "As we are cut off in many ways, the outward dissemination of information is carried out by the Regional Bishops' Secretariat."

He also said that for the time being, he has not requested assistance from the Vatican to aid Christians in the area.

Archbishop Lumon told OSV News that Manipur is a multi-ethnic state of many cultural and religious groups and that the only way it can move past the violence is if its people "learn to embrace a common brotherhood and peaceful coexistence."

Furthermore, he added, "There should be equitable distribution of resources and the development initiatives to be taken up to address the prolonged deprivation and promote a common 'belongingness.'

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10 Comments on this Story
RANAJIT KUMAR RAY
Meitei Hindus are locals of Manipur. The christian tribals only infiltrating there. Why no comments from Meiteis have been incorporated? Why your Church is meddling in local politics and caste system. That there is no Meitei representation in the write up the proof if your biased and onesidedness. As it is Meiteis are peace living people. Why people from nagaland is taking up their land?
DR. DHRUBA NINGOMBAM
The learned ones should go through a very thorough and conclude instead of drawing lines between religion... Very sad to know after spending my first 12 years of education in catholics...
JOHN
Karmam phalam for laying seeds legions of asuras of demons of Selfishness greediness jealousy lies hatred Hypocrisy double standards pride discriminatn Kauravas mentality inherited culture trend of duryodhana who tried to molest sister in law and tried to kill his relatives and ravan bahman who kidnapped others wife and aswathama bahman who killed sleeping Pandavas. pray that all wicked corrupt evil politicians assets are either transferred to righteous or cursed to become useless for demonised politicians and their kids. 'Cursed Hypocrites ( double standards, liars) are those godless andh bakths who are against Congress has Dynasty policy though all dynastic politicians were elected by Indian public voters ( and not hacked or stolen EVM ED IT RAW ECI NIA CBI) but support Brahmin, upper caste, kingship, property transfer, lineage based on Dynasty only and not on merits. So God has cursed those demonised blind bakths to send their kids to beef pork eaters english language schools and beef for jobs, scholarship, asylum, immigration, citizenship, etc in beef pork eaters countries like USA Europe new Zealand Australia gulf etc.' brainwashed by feku bakths who release demons of jealousy, greed, pride, fear, anger, selfishness, hypocrisy, double standards, discrimination, turncoats, etc but stand cursed 4 generations 4 supporting godhra khoon ka saudagar. Blood on their hands indirectly. Karmam phalam no money for underprivileged BPL (300 crores ) or poor but use public tax GST money to subsidize adani (11 lakh crores) or but MLA MP's EVM ED IT RAW ECI NIA etc and fear asura causing them to buy 10$ billion arms from Russia, (forget USA Europe Israel.) all for atmaa? nilburr cursed liar proud feku Cursed feku bakths for releasing Legions of asuras of fear, hypocrisy, double standards, pride, lies, discriminatn, selfishness, greed, hatred mongering, jealousy, Kauravas mentality inherited culture trend of duryodhana who tried to molest sister in law and tried to kill relatives and ravan bahman who kidnapped others wife and aswathama bahman who killed sleeping Pandavas
INDRANIL MUKHOPADHYAY
Christians has sinister plan. They want to take control of our country. They are converting Hindus. We must destroy their nasty plan. All churches must be demolished
HARSHA
Why venom spreading with this posts that some said some listen go and check reality of Manipur, court not decided m govt not taken ,court asks am enquiry of this ST Status to a community. Its venom spreaded by some chrsitian groups only
VENKATRAM
The Hindus who died, committed suicide?
HEISNAM DEVI
This is totally a wrong concept ,the terror is not cause bcoz of just meiteis are granted ST. There is a hidden agenda in the attitude and terror cause by the immigrants kuki milliant that were flooded in Manipur!! There is no such religious conflict as mentioned here. Both sides were victimized, if kuki, Christianity was only vandalised n chruches were only the targets , then why many local poor villagers who are meites origin caste were vendalised, houses were burned down. At the gun point of their life, why they are chased out of their own lands . With the threats of arms and ammunition, common people are forced to leave their homes n properties!!! Please do not bring religious conflicts, at the current midst of heartbreaking situation of our manipuri State ????
ADITYA HAZARIKA
Exactly equitable distribution of resources, 60% population cannot be confined to 10% land of Manipur. Hence ST status necessary.
MANICKAM
The catholic priests and other Xian denominations are responsible for this mayhem by converting the trials and trying to dominate
NIRAJ GARG
Christianity came to India with invader English and created havoc with tolerant native Hindus. You people are curse on this civilization. Earlier this land is freed from Christianity is better. Don't poke your nose and fingers in our domestic issues, we will take care of these.
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