Activists cite Manipur violence to criticise Modi over his meeting with Christian community members

The activists alleged that the prime minister perhaps could not find the time to visit Manipur and left it to the Union home minister and the chief minister to handle the situation.
Last Updated : 28 December 2023, 14:31 IST
Last Updated : 28 December 2023, 14:31 IST

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New Delhi: A group of activists and representatives of Christian community on Thursday said it is an irony that the year which saw churches being burnt in Manipur is ending with Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitating leaders of the minority community.

At a press conference here, civil society activists Apoorvanand, John Dayal, Shabnam Hashmi, Minakshi Singh, Mary Scaria and A C Michael said that through the year, the Christian community had been pleading with the prime minister to visit Manipur, which has been engulfed in ethnic violence.

They alleged that the prime minister perhaps could not find the time to visit Manipur and left it to the Union home minister and the chief minister to handle the situation.

More than 200 people have been killed and nearly 60,000 rendered homeless in ethnic violence between the majority Meitei community and the tribal Kukis since early May. The majority of Kukis, who live in the hill districts of Manipur, are Christians.

In a statement, the activists said, "Civil Society and the Christian community in India note the irony of the year 2023 where summer began with the burning of churches and the killing of Christians in the valley of Imphal in Manipur, and ends with religious leaders felicitating the prime minister on Christmas for his great contribution to the welfare of this small community and the county at large."

They claimed that 50,000 Kuki-Zo people continue to live in harsh conditions in refugee camps run by various church groups.

They said it was not just about Manipur.

"In Uttar Pradesh for instance, nearly 100 pastors and even ordinary men and women are in jail under charges of illegal conversions when all they were doing was celebrating birthdays or conducting Sunday prayers," they claimed.

"The persecution of the community is rampant, hate towards it from the highest quarters of nationalist religious leadership as deep as it can be," they alleged.

They also cited the government withdrawing licences under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of a vast number of churches and their NGOs to allegedly target the community.

The activists added in their statement that the prime minister is duty bound to embrace the nation's religious minorities and invite their leaders to functions at his house on Christmas and important days.

"We remember when Christmas carols were a part of the Rashtrapati Bhavan Calendar. But the Christmas spirit must not let us forget the condition and tribulations of our brothers and sisters who suffer because of government impunity and the brazen political elements who have no respect for the Constitution of India and its guarantees of freedoms to the citizens," they said.

Modi met members of the Christian community at his residence in Delhi on Christmas Day and heaped praise on the community for its role in giving direction to the society and sense of service.

Published 28 December 2023, 14:31 IST

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