A Dangerous Precedent

Dr Asangba Tzudir

The recent incidences of violence in Manipur is very disturbing not simply because of the cause of the violence leading to loss of many lives, or the history of ethnic clashes in the region,  but because of the very nature in which the violence escalated along religious lines. The burning down of Churches is not only disturbing but has set a very dangerous precedent while bringing the North East region as a whole in context. 

The burning down of Church buildings is not simply a manifestation of religious intolerance but the very act of perpetration where a particular community finds targeted and thus inciting fear on the ‘targeted’ community. While the act of destruction of the Church buildings have crippled the religious activities, the fear of any impending violence will linger but on a more heightened note considering the fact that the ethnic conflict now comes fused with religion.

However, the larger issue being the replication of religious places of worship being vandalized and burnt down across the country thereby setting a very dangerous precedent. This is something which the people of the North East region at large need to be wary of. Like in the case of AFSPA, under the ‘guise’ of a ‘state of necessity’ created through a ‘sovereign hand of the machinery’, a particular area or region comes to be declared as ‘disturbed’ for AFSPA to be in place. However, the burning down of Church buildings has already ‘naturally’ set a very lasting impression of fear on the ‘targeted’ community having been already disturbed. 

Today, religion, or religious minorities have become soft targets thereby creating communal violence, and in the current episode of violence, giving focus on the aspect of Church buildings being burnt, the larger question concerning the Churches and the Christians is - how should the Church respond? 

Such form of ‘targeted violence’ is here to stay and therefore begs a very pertinent question - Should the Church spew venom through the language of hatred, or speak the language of tolerance and forgiveness? While the physical Church buildings can be rebuilt, most importantly, in times when the ‘faith’ factor finds shattered, let it be reminded that, it is more important to rebuild the larger commissioned kingdom by holding on fast to the Truth. It requires holding on to the Truth to have the heart of love and forgiveness. It is also the Truth that hides all kinds of human weaknesses including fear. 

Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to the Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to [email protected]