In the northeastern state of Manipur, India, a heart-wrenching tale of mistreatment and persecution of Christians unfolds. Despite the promises of safeguarding the rights of all citizens, the state government's inadvertence towards acts of violence against Christians has raised serious concerns.
Recently, the brutal attack on Christian women in Manipur has cast a shadow over India's reputation.
The state's significant Christian population, constituting about 40% of the total, has been severely affected. Hundreds of churches belonging to the Kuki Christians have been destroyed, and numerous women have been subjected to horrific sexual violence. It appears that radical Hindu groups are systematically targeting Kuki Christians, and the authorities are failing to intervene.
Celebrities from various fields have expressed their condemnation of the violence against Christians in Manipur. Renowned figures such as actors, musicians, and activists have spoken out in solidarity with the persecuted community, urging the government to take decisive action.
As a democratic nation that prides itself on its secular values, India must ensure the safety and well-being of all its citizens, regardless of their religious affiliations. The state's failure to hold the perpetrators accountable sends a distressing message to the marginalized Christian community.
The human rights violations against Christians in Manipur are deeply troubling. From physical assaults to social ostracization and threats, the Christian community faces multiple challenges daily. Freedom of worship, expression, and assembly, which are fundamental rights, should not be compromised for any citizen.
It is now crucial for the US government to carefully consider the recommendations made by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) concerning India. This includes designating India as a "Country of Particular Concern" and imposing targeted sanctions on Indian government officials and agencies.
Earlier this month, the vice president of the neighbouring state of Mizoram, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP Party), resigned, alleging that the party had become anti-Christian. The violence depicted in the video, showing mobs wreaking havoc in villages, killing people, and setting buildings ablaze, signifies the near-civil war situation in Manipur that has claimed over 130 lives since May.
The conflict was triggered by a court decision in March that granted the Meitei community "scheduled tribe" status, giving them the same financial benefits and quotas in government jobs and education as the minority Kukis. This also allowed them to buy land in the hills, primarily inhabited by the Kukis, escalating the violence.
Despite the presence of the army, the clashes continue in Manipur, a state of 3.7 million people nestled in the mountains on India's border with Myanmar. The state is now divided into two ethnic zones, with both sides forming armed militias and shelling remote settlements. Over 60,000 people have fled to overcrowded relief camps.
A video surfaced 77 days after a horrifying incident, showing men publicly exposing themselves and dragging two visibly distressed Kuki women towards a paddy field, where they were allegedly gang-raped. The incident occurred the day after ethnic violence first broke out in May when a Meitei organization attacked B Phainom Village, a Kuki-dominated village. According to a complaint filed on June 21, a police squad rescued men and women who had fled to the forest, but a mob intercepted them on their way back to the station.
Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud stated, "In a constitutional democracy, this is unacceptable. If the government does not act, we will." Smriti Irani, Indian Women and Child Development Minister called the incident "condemnable and downright inhuman," assuring that investigations were underway and that justice would be served.
The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution urging Indian authorities to halt the violence in Manipur and protect religious minorities, particularly Christians. The Indian Foreign Ministry dismissed the resolution as "interference" in its internal affairs, ignoring its longstanding trade and strategic partnership with the European Union.
Prominent personalities from around the world have also expressed their concern over the situation in Manipur and called for an end to the persecution of Christians.
Prime Minister Modi broke his silence on the Manipur violence after 80 days, condemning the abuse of Kuki women. However, his comments veered into politics when he also mentioned the abuse of women in Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, states controlled by the opposition party. This politicization of human rights issues is a warning sign for the future of India.
The Indian government must take a proactive stance in addressing the issues faced by Christians in Manipur. Law enforcement agencies must be urged to investigate and prosecute those responsible for acts of violence against Christians. Additionally, the international community must play a supportive role by monitoring the situation and putting diplomatic pressure on India to take appropriate actions.
As the government in power during these incidents, the Modi administration bears a significant responsibility. A strong and united voice must call upon the Prime Minister and his cabinet to prioritize the protection of religious minorities and uphold the secular values that India cherishes.
International organizations must address the ongoing persecution of Christians in Manipur. The United Nations should take appropriate actions against the Modi government for these severe human rights violations. It is now crucial for the US government to carefully consider the recommendations made by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) concerning India. This includes designating India as a "Country of Particular Concern" and imposing targeted sanctions on Indian government officials and agencies.
The world is watching, and it is time for India to take decisive and just actions to protect the rights and safety of its Christian citizens in Manipur.