Church leaders call for peace in Manipur on India’s Independence Day
By Prasanthi Mandapati
"Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake," says the poet Rabindranath Tagore in the poem “Heaven of Freedom”, an excerpt from Tagore's classic book Gitanjali.
The poet prayed for India's independence, which they longed for during the years of colonization. This song of freedom continues to resonate in the ears of Indians when they think about freedom and celebrate Independence Day.
India is a diverse country with distinct cultures, languages, religions and traditions. Despite its differences it is known for its unity in diversity while respecting each other’s differences.
Indians proudly and patriotically commemorated the nation's 76th Independence Day on 15 August 2023. It is a day on which the nation's leaders and citizens remember the great sacrifices made by the freedom fighters with their lives for the nation's independence.
Peace in Manipur
On the occasion of the nation's Independence Day anniversary, Church leaders called for peace in Manipur, India. The people of Manipur have been living in fear, violence, and insecurity for several months, especially women and children.
People and leaders from around the country have been calling for peace in Manipur. Along with anthems of freedom and patriotism, Catholic Church leaders in various parts of India implored for necessary actions to bring peace to Manipur.
In a press release, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said, “Our nation’s strength is derived from its ability to confront and resolve internal challenges with empathy, understanding, and unity. The diverse fabric of our country is a source of strength, but it also requires ongoing efforts to ensure that every citizen’s right and aspiration are respected and protected.”
The Bishops also launched an appeal for the government to “uphold the secular fabric of our country, reinforce constitutional values, and cultivate an environment of peaceful coexistence of various communities.”
Rise up India
Recalling the situation of Manipur on the occasion of its Independence Day, Bishop Dominic Savio Fernandes, auxiliary bishop of Mumbai, urged peace, saying “Rise up India”.
“It is, however, unfortunate that in the present India/Bharat, we are beginning to see a great divide on religious and communal lines,” said Bishop Savio. “There is so much hatred and venom that is being spread, vitiating the harmony that once existed in our great nation. Under the guise of defending national interests, ancient conflicts that were long buried are being raked up anew, thereby creating doubts and confusion in the minds of people and dividing and polarizing society.”
The Bishop recalled that India is the homeland of Mahatma Gandhi and called for a new path of peace.
“Every law-abiding, peace-loving Indian has a responsibility to rise above differences and endeavor to promote love, tolerance, and sensitivity again in the hearts of all Indians,” he said. “The principles that are valued by our Constitution must be protected.”
Bishop Savio invited Indians to replace hatred with love and turn any thoughts of revenge into an opportunity to forgive.
“So, Rise India and thy billions lead and follow the path of Love, so as to be a light to all the nations of the world,” he said. “Let us follow the Gandhian path of love, non-violence, equality, respect for all human beings, self-sacrifice, justice, peace and fraternity.”