Indian Archbishop ‘concerned’ over persecution of Christians amid Manipur clash
By Zeus Legaspi
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangalore issued a statement on Friday expressing concern over the alleged targeting and persecution of Christians in Manipur after the eruption of violence in the state.
Archbishop Peter Machado said that there has recently been a resurgence of harassment against Christians in the state.
“We have received reports that three churches built in 1974 and some houses have been set on fire, and the people have been forced to flee to safer places,” he said.
Reports of over a dozen more churches being burned and desecrated and Jesuit priests being threatened have also surfaced.
“It demonstrates the gravity of the danger faced by people who are being targeted for their religious beliefs and practices,” the archbishop added.
“We hope and pray that the situation will be brought under control, and peace and confidence will be restored to the people of Manipur,” he continued.
The archbishop also pointed out that it is the government’s responsibility to “ensure the freedom of religion, especially as the people have entrusted the party with power.”
The violence in Manipur broke out during a protest on Wednesday as tensions heightened between the ethnic community of Meitei, composed mostly of Hindus and Muslims, and the mostly Christian Naga tribal group.
In the midst of the riots, around 9,000 people have been evacuated but actual figures of lives lost and damaged property are yet to be specified.
The dispute was sparked by the objection of non-Meitei groups to the Meitei’s request to be recognized as a “Scheduled Tribe”, which would guarantee them certain benefits in terms of jobs and land rights.
The Meitei are reported to make up over 50% of the population in Manipur.