Manipuri Christian group urges President Droupadi Murmu to reconstruct demolished churches, to allow them to exercise their faith

Jul 1, 2024 - 17:00
Manipuri Christian group urges President Droupadi Murmu to reconstruct demolished churches, to allow them to exercise their faith

While urging the President of India Droupadi Murmu to rebuild the places of worship that had been demolished during the ethnic clashes between Kuki-Zo and Meitei communities, All Manipur Christian Organization (AMCO) alleged that the displaced Meitei Christians are not allowed to exercise their faith, which is their fundamental right according to the Constitution of India.

The AMCO is the apex Christian body in Manipur submitted a memorandum to President Murmu on June 26.

Since the beginning of May 3, 2023, more than 300 people have lost their lives in Manipur, most of these victims are Christians from the Kuki-Zo and Meitei communities. More than 20 thousand from these communities have fled from the violence for shelter in other parts of the state or country.

Presently, Manipur stands divided into segregated districts that are completely Meitei-inhabited or completely Kuki-Zo. Now it is impossible to cross from a Kuki area to a Meitei area, and vice versa, without entering makeshift borders that are controlled by heavily armed soldiers. While the Meitei community has access to the only airport in the state, the Kukis must resort to 16 to 18 hours of driving to access an airport in Mizoram. The Christian organisation also sought the intervention of the President for the reconstruction of more than 360 churches of various denominations that had been vandalised demolished or set ablaze by the miscreants in the past year of ethnic conflicts between Meitei and Kuki-Zo community, which erupted on May 3, 2023.

In a memorandum to President Murmu, AMCP president L Simon Raomai and secretary (peace affairs) Johnny Shimray said: “What is extremely saddening and heart-wrenching is the fact that all the displaced Meitei Christians are still not allowed to practice Christianity as their faith which is a guaranteed fundamental right of our secular nation.”

“Since the conflict erupted on May 3, 2023, more than 360 Christian churches have either been razed to the ground, demolished or vandalized. Of the total churches, 249 churches belonged to the Meitei minority Christian community,” the memorandum stated.

The AMCO urged the President that the perpetrators of this crime be immediately booked and the Meitei Christians who have been threatened and harassed to date and not allowed to practise their faith be given necessary protection and assurance by the Central and the state government that they would no longer be disturbed from any angle in practising whatever faith they choose.

The Christian organisation also urged the President to take immediate action to rebuild these places of worship, fostering healing and restoring the faith of unity among the people. “The reconstruction of these churches will not only serve as a symbol of resilience but also reaffirm our commitment to diversity and harmony,” the memorandum stated.

Further, the organisation urged the President to facilitate the swift repatriation of individuals currently residing in various relief camps. “Their return to their homes, with the support of the government, is crucial for rebuilding their lives and restoring normalcy to the communities of both Kuki-Zo and Meitei respectively,” it added.