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Extremists burn down 25 churches, kill 6 Christians in India


The North-eastern Indian state of Manipur experienced extreme aggression from anti-Christian mobs.

Rioting gangs slaughtered 6 people, and destroyed or burned down 25 churches. Since 3 May 2023, thousands of victims, the majority of them Christians, have fled their homes and businesses, following religious extremist attacks. Local Christian leaders believe these assaults are religiously prompted. 

The Meitei community in Manipur has been requesting for Scheduled Tribe status for more than a decade. The status would give communities legal protections, including property rights; equal rights policy in education, employment and reserved seats in parliament. In April 2023, the Manipur High Court ordered the state to respond to the community’s request. Manipur tribal groups disagreed with this change, because they believed this classification would weaken their own political representation and protections.

Thousands of people gathered to protest the Meitei’s demand on Wednesday, the 3rd of May.  In many areas churches, war memorials and other buildings were vandalised or burned down, several locals were injured and some killed. The Indian government had to utilize military forces, set up a curfew and suspended internet access.

Ngaineilam Haokip, an academic at university in Kolkata who grew up in Manipur, said “In this pogrom, the Hindu Meiteis not only burned down churches belonging to tribals but also churches that exclusively belong to Meitei Christians. They targeted their own brethren who follow Christ by burning their churches. Tribals were not prepared for a war. They were holding peace rallies against the demand for Scheduled Tribe status by Meiteis. The Meiteis on the other hand, were planning for this kind of confrontation for a long time, it seems. They collected gun licenses and guns and then lit the fire” he added.

The North East Students Society of Delhi University, a group that represents the Christian tribal community, denounced the attacks, calling them a “division along the lines of religious faith and communal identity fuelled by political propaganda”.

According to local governors, the influence of the Hindu nationalist organizations Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is critically strong. After the BJP came to power in 2017, they promoted their radical Hindu ideology and pushed their faith as the supreme religion in India. 


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