An aerial view of Imphal city, the capital of Manipur in northeast India, where Christians were stunned by a bomb blast at the premises of a prominent Catholic school on June 5. (Photo: AFP)
Police have arrested a suspect in connection with recent bomb blasts on the premises of a Catholic school and near a shop in Imphal, capital of Manipur state in northeast India.
Thounaojam Rishi Luwangcha, 46, was arrested on June 7 along with a cache of explosives, detonators and wires similar to the ones used in the explosions, Ksh Shivakanta Singh, superintendent of police, Imphal West, told reporters.
The blast at Little Flower School, a leading Catholic missionary school in Imphal, on June 5 stunned Christians in the state. Fortunately, there were no injuries, although some portions of the school building, including window panes, were damaged.
Police suspect Luwangcha was recruited by the National Revolutionary Front of Manipur, an armed group known for threatening and extorting money.
He was likely provided with the explosive materials and also received money for the bomb blasts, said Singh.
Catholic educational institutions across Manipur remained closed on June 7 in a protest against the incident. The call was given by the Archdiocese of Imphal and Catholic Educational Society Manipur (CSEM).
“We have no enemies or any misunderstanding with anybody, hence it came as a surprise to us. Church-run institutions cater to all people irrespective of religion, caste and creed"
“All Christian institutions joined in and it went off peacefully,” said Father Stephen Touthang, director of CSEM. The students and teachers demanded the state government ensure that all educational institutions are made “violence-free zones,” he added.
Speaking to UCA News, Father Solomon Thezii, chancellor of Imphal Archdiocese, hoped the police will get to the root of the conspiracy and bring all culprits to book.
“We have no enemies or any misunderstanding with anybody, hence it came as a surprise to us. Church-run institutions cater to all people irrespective of religion, caste and creed,” he said.
Reverend Jangkholun Mangte, a former pastor of Zomi Christian Fellowship Church in New Delhi, said Christians from the northeast were quite worried after hearing of the bomb blasts but have full faith that the authorities will do the needful.
Zomi Christian Fellowship is an inter-denominational fellowship of students and families from Manipur, Mizoram and other northeastern states in India’s national capital.
The All Manipur Catholic Union also strongly condemned the incident at the school and said the very foundations of society are under threat when education institutions are not safe,
According to the 2011 census, Christians account for 41.29 percent of Manipur’s population.