Praying Christian woman murdered by armed ethnic Meitei in Manipur
An ethnic Kuki Christian woman was attacked and killed by ethnic Meitei with automatic rifles in Manipur state’s Khoken village.
Ginza Vualzong, a spokesperson for the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) said “They have no regard for women and children. A woman was killed inside the church while she was praying, that’s how merciless they are”.
The armed Meitei arrived wearing the uniforms of the Indian army and driving their vehicles. They killed two other ethnic Kuki Christians, Jangpao Touthang and Khaimang Guite and wounded another two Kuki Christian villagers, identified as Thongneh and Thangkhojang.
A Kuki pastor, L. Kamzamang, from Manipur who moved to Delhi last year said the conflict features the influence of Hindu extremists: “The mobs after burning churches were hoisting their flag on the top of the churches. It is like they were trying to portray that they have conquered the church — the religious sacred place of our worship. The strangest thing is that they burned the churches even before they killed people,” Pastor Kamzamang said. “This to me has a strong religious aspect, and we can see the plan that’s being developed by burning church after church”.
Hindu extremists want to persuade Kuki tribal leaders by offering them various privileges. They also imprint extreme Hindu nationalist agenda on Meitei’ minds.
Following the Manipur High Court’s demand to give the Meitei group a Scheduled Tribe status – which would grant them the same privileges that minority tribes such as the Kukis have – ethnic violence unleashed between the Kuki and Meitei in April 2023. Scheduled Tribe status pledges indigenous groups access to reserved political seats, affirmative action and development programs. The predominantly Hindu Meitei make up 53% of the population of Manipur state, have not been eligible for such benefits. Thousands marched on the streets on 3 May to oppose the directive. The peaceful protest soon became violent: incidents of arson, vandalism, and confrontations were reported. According to official reports, more than 70 people died and 65,000 were displaced by 20 May.
According to local records, at least 317 church buildings have been destroyed in the violence since 3 May. Three Christians were burned alive inside an ambulance by a Meitei mob on 4 June.