Archbishop of Imphal claims 249 churches burnt in Manipur: ‘Religious attack carried out’

Amid 47/">clashes between Manipur’s Meitei and Kuki communities, “religious attack has been effectively carried out”, Dominic Lumon, the Archbishop of Imphal, wrote in a letter Saturday.

Recording at least 10 alleged instances of institutions under the Catholic Church being attacked since the violence broke out, he claimed that 249 churches belonging to Meitei Christians had been destroyed within 36 hours since the start of the violence.

“The wonder is in the midst of the fight between the Kukis and the Meiteis, why did the Meitei mob burn down and destroy 249 churches located in the Meitei heartland? How is it that there was almost a natural attack on the church in the Meitei localities itself and how did the mob know where the churches were located if not previously planned?” he claimed.

In his account, he has connected this with the revival of Sanamahism, the indigenous religion of Meiteis, and the emergence of groups such as Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun.

“Some pastors have been indicated not to rebuild the churches. There is systematic silencing of the minorities. Is this not another ‘Ghar Wapsi’?” he claimed.

He also questioned the role of the government and the armed forces in failing to maintain peace in the state. “The elected government of the State and the Centre have not been able to restore the Rule of Law in the State and put a stop to the mad violence even after one and a half months. It is fit to state that there is collapse of the Constitutional Machinery in the State. One wonders why the President’s Rule is still not an option,” he wrote.

“It is hard to say if the State forces were outnumbered or overwhelmed with SOSs or if they were complicit. The absence of the security personnel in places where they were most needed raises questions that are unsettling. If there was sincerity, why was it that not even in one place of attack were the state force able to prevent things from running amok for prolonged time. Why is it that vulnerable places even after attempted attacks were left unguarded?” he further wrote.