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Indian prelate calls Manipur riots 'ethnic-cleansing of Christians'

Archbishop Joseph Pamplany of Tellicherry equated the sectarian violence in the northeastern state to the 2002 Gujarat riots

The remains of a burnt church are seen in Langching village some 45 km from Imphal, the capital city of Manipur on May 31. The ongoing ethnic violence has kept India's northeastern state on the edge since May 3

The remains of a burnt church are seen in Langching village some 45 km from Imphal, the capital city of Manipur on May 31. The ongoing ethnic violence has kept India's northeastern state on the edge since May 3. (Photo by AFP)

Published: June 30, 2023 10:29 AM GMT

Updated: June 30, 2023 10:33 AM GMT

An Indian Catholic Archbishop has termed the ongoing sectarian violence in northeastern Manipur state “ethnic-cleansing of Christians” and criticized the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government for its failure to restore peace after nearly two months and more than 130 deaths.

Indicating a marked departure from the Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church’s earlier stand toward India's ruling party, Archbishop Joseph Pamplany of Tellicherry said the ongoing violence in Manipur is “ethnic-cleansing of Christians” who make up 41.29 percent of the hilly state’s 3.2 million people.

The prelate, in one of the strongest criticisms of the BJP from any Church leader in India, equated the sectarian violence in Manipur to the 2002 riots in the western Gujarat state, where some 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was its chief minister.

In an official release from the Syro-Malabar Church on June 30, Archbishop Pamplany from the southern Kerala state dared Modi to repeat his claim in the US during a press conference with President Joe Biden that “there was no religious discrimination in India.”

“When such ethnic cleansing is happening in our country, our prime minister told the American Congress that there is absolutely no discrimination in India,” Pamplany told a solidarity meeting in Kannur, in Kerala, on June 28.

“Honourable prime minister, we have to ask you this: can you keep your hand on your chest and tell the suffering Christians of Manipur that there is no religious discrimination in this country?” he added 

The Syro-Malabar Church was seen as hobnobbing with the pro-Hindu party ahead of the 2024 national elections while ignoring its agenda of turning India into a theocratic Hindu nation.

Archbishop Pamplany had courted controversy in March after he offered the BJP help to win a parliamentary seat from Kerala in exchange for increasing the rubber prices to Rs. 300 (US$4) for a kilogram. Syrian Christians in Kerala are mostly farmers, a majority of them engaged in rubber cultivation.

Pamplany had drawn criticism from within the Church and outside for his remarks.

Amid the rising persecution of Christians and Muslims, Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, too, had given a clean chit to the BJP, saying Christians do not feel insecure under its rule in the country. 

Cardinal Alencherry made the controversial statement in an interview published by The New Indian Express on April 9.

Many influential BJP leaders have met Eastern rite bishops as part of an outreach program to woo Syrian Christians in the tiny state with 18 percent Christians out of its 33 million population.

Their bonhomie had invited criticism from within the Church as Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore along with other Christian groups had filed a petition in the country's top court seeking direction to end the persecution of Christians.

The latest U-turn by Archbishop Pamplany has won the hearts of the worst critics of the Syro-Malabar Church leadership.

Shaiju Antony, a leader of the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency (ATM) in Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, lauded the prelate for his stand.

The ATM has locked horns with the Church over a decades-old liturgy dispute, but its lay Catholic leader in a video message on June 30 said: “At least now, the Syro-Malabar Church leadership understood the reality in Manipur and responded positively.” 

Antony welcomed it as "a laudable step” and added: "It is better to be late than never.”

Manipur is gripped by violence and bloodshed since May 3.

Tribal groups, comprising mainly Christians, are fighting against the majority Meitei Hindu community opposing the Meitei demand for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe category to avail benefits of the reservation quota under India’s affirmative action plan. 

Christian leaders say some 50,000 Kuki people are displaced and live in some 300 relief camps, and they get little support from the state administration, headed by the BJP.

Many have taken shelter in the forest and close to 300 churches have been set on fire.

The violence has claimed more than 130 lives, but a realistic head count could increase the number considerably, Church leaders said.

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54 Comments on this Story
What a volte face, nevertheless better late than never
Religion is the causes of all evil. If there had been no religion there won't be chaos and violence in the state. Religion back by radicalised brainwashed ignite the fire of manipur and the Christain societies instead of condemning has instigating and put fuel to the violence. Shame of RELIGION
religion is what makes the world running. it teaches love, compassion, forgiveness, etc, etc. without religion there wont be human being on the earth.
Well said
If you are correct and 100 per cent sure, tell Modiji not to spend on Ram Mandir, Masjid or churches but I am sure if you don't believe in existence of God, one day you will realise from hell jahannoom that there is God
Are the only catholic Church burnt down and what is your image in Manipur shouting Christian
You kuki's can take away your home and your belongings but you kuki's can not take away the land of Manipur
You kuki's or Chinese or the UNC never think of your habit to be in India, We are Indian and you are not necessary for us, you can share only your mantelity but not in action
If all countries think like this, what will be the fate of Indian's working and studying abroad.
More than 100 Churches burnt & PM still kept mum. If as much number of Hindu temples had been burnt anywhere all over the world, he'll certainly shout at the top of his voice. Is this RSS gameplan?
Go by proof on ground. How many churches have been destroyed and how many temples. Let the facts be out to shut the mouth of Modi bakths.
Temples kitne tute ye bhi t batao
What a caption.shame on you for ur half knowledge.if it was a Christian cleansing then why the meitei Christian are being chased out looting their homes and belongings by the Christian kuki from their Christian area and why the the other Christian communities are there peacefully in other parts of the state including the heart of Imphal.don't spare false information in the world platform.pls use it in a better way
Miss Elizabeth, let these folks bark all over the internet. They are fed by blatant lies. God knows who Started this unrest and who was plotting this whole scheme. Now playing victim card is their game. Let them be. We should not go to their path.
Thats all you got ?? Thought Meiteis are smart as serpent . Instead of trying to Insult and farting your nonsense,Why don't you write something good about Meitei?
Please do your homework properly. One sided narrative is outdated nowadays. This will add fuel to the present crisis.
Abe chutiyo this between two communities still there are lots of churches belong to other communities in safe... Kuki r playing victim card as well as Christian card.
You know nothing but you saw a charred photo of a church and started spitting all the poisons. The situation of the state is very very sensitive, please do research, know the causes and the facts then express your wisdom. Do not spill more oil to already burning Manipur. If you dnt agree challenge me on a debate.
Why are tribes settled in the hills (Christian majority) stopping the plain non Christian people stopping them from owning lands in the hills. Who is responsible for the agitation. Is the church stopping the plain people from owning the land in the hills
Why are kuki's objecting to meiti demands????
Ye dharm ka ladai kab se ho gaya or is nam pe bhi tumhe bhikh chahiye
1. Harami Hindutva goons, supported and encouraged by none other Modi and Shah themselves are behind such troubles as always. 2. Christians, who chose to support Hindutva and point fingers at Muslims from time to time, need to think it over - if they are not target today, they will be tomorrow.
Look worldwide at the names of terrorists involved in the crimes.You will know how is Harami.Nonsense fellow
With greater power comes greater responsibility, Mr Archbishop. Research before you speak.
Well..Christians convert people by force or demonizing their gods and they are crying foul. The pope famously came to India and announced he wants to convert this land. Mental violence is hallmark of Christianity. Shame on christians and the pope.
Originally a socio-ethnic issue between two groups has become a religious issue for religious leaders who are outsiders and are owners of properties / wealth which got damaged in the violence. They must be considering it an opportunity on many fronts. Interesting to note that the fighting groups are not talking abt religion at all.
But how native Kuki's became Christian and this violence is against the reservation to the meitei community.Then who is at the loggerheads?
By making false propaganda, you are endangering yourself. The conflict is not between religion, it is between communities. Unchecked infiltration is the root cause.
Those catholic bishops and clergy supporting BJP in india should be shot dead immediately. BJP has been harassing Christians in india and specially manipur.
Always good people will be taken for a ride by the cunning fellows once these good people loose the patients exactly this is what happens, let us live in the country who is having rich heritage our own people have been converted by creed cash force cheating our own people are fighting there own original religion which is petty thing.
Stop conversions.
What ethnic cleansing of Christians.. manipuri so to say people from the north east were never Christians to start with.. Ethnic cleansing and conversions by u Christians during the 200 year of colonialism has transformed the demography of the place now u talk about ethnic cleansing...u Christians were never there..even today also converted christian
If India was not colonized we would have bullock carts on the road and fuel is gai mutr and cowdung. Ha ha
The violence in Manipur was started by Kukis. Why does not the church hold them responsible. Instead of blaming Modi and Hindus Church should look within and ask the members to be calm and quiet. If they have problem with high court orders they can always go to supreme court. In India the court orders should prevail.
More than 300 churches burnt in Manipur under BJP government.
Stop relating it to religion. It was never Christian and Hindu. Stop painting it a religious picture and if you speak of ethnic cleansing thn it is the meitei hindu who are completely removed from their villages. Check your facts hate mongers and dont poke your nose on things you don't know about.
I strongly feel Archbishop Joseph Pamplany of tellicherry from syro-Malbar church is talking in the voice of congress party, which had always divided people on religion lines to keep themselves relevant and rule over many States and at Central Government.
झड़ गए पूंछ रोमांत झरे, पशुता का झड़ना बांकी है। ऊपर ऊपर तन संवर चुका मन अभी संवरना बांकी है
Naga peoples are also Christian, why they are silent now, and why they hate Kukis...
Throughout years we have seen conversions to Muslims and Christians. You see the population of Christians, they have multiplied abnormally. Now when Hindus have become aware, these people are creating false narrative/propaganda.
Naga churches are still in Imphal without any damage. Please don't try to play Christian card. Many meetei Christians were already cleansed from churachandpur.
How you can compare it with Gujrat? Its ridiculous. Who started the fight? Its the Kukis. Where they have got automated rifles? If it is ethnic cleasing, then how these people for years living with thousands of Churches in the hills? My dear bishop, its not religion its infiltration of militan groups and reprisal turn into violence. Where these churches were when kukis started killing and burning houses of mittei people, then it was not hindu cleansing? Stop your nonsense and dont see religion in every matter. Hope for peace and help devasted Manipur before blaming.
Don’t spread false information it’s clearly caste based violence emotions vs tribal. Thus us congress work!
What complete one sided garbage propaganda ... Christian Kuki terrorists have long been attacking Meities in Manipur ...
Conversions by missionaries have led to this. What they did was state sponsored ethibic cleansing
It was expected that Congress will do anything to divide Society on the line of religion.
Yes it is cleansing
Arch Bishop must come to the epicentre of the riots and see who began. Peace rally by Kuki with AK47 is a sign of Christianity? Please don't bring religion at this point of time at least. If you are so concern come out and show your love and affection by helping human beings not meitei and kuki. Don't preach but practice honestly. Do not side either side and make your lens blurred. How can a church leader of the country speak like this. This negative view of yours is not acceptable. Please restraint from such baseless comments rather come out and help the people if you are a God fearing person and value the values of being an Indian at first.
You bishops are converting hindus, and now crying fowl when caught
This is a propaganda news portal
If so then have all the Nagas been converted to Hindus or Islam, cause they are not being targeted.
Pamplany.....stop coercive forcible conversions....you are free to practice your religion but don't make Christ so helpless that he needs more hands on deck for which you guys do this coercion business...that's what irritates people...if people come of their will thats fine but to get donations from West don't undersell Jesus Christ....
Christians are also playing victim card like delhi mulsims , killing Hindus abd then claiming Hindus killing Muslims It's kuki Christians doing ethnic cleansing of meitei, not vice versa Stop ur lies
Most Nagas are also Christian but they live in peace unlike the kukis. Giving a religious color to the present situation may be considered an attempt to distract the stakeholders from the real problems

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