An open letter to the people of Manipur

Rev Seksim Kasar
General Secretary, CNC

Dear citizens of Manipur
Greetings to you from the Council of Nagalim Churches (CNC). May this letter find you and speak to you with the spirit of empathy and understanding and ponder upon the plight of the people living in this terrible situation never seen before in the past.

It is heart-breaking that Meitei-Kuki ethnic violence has taken heavy toll on both the communities since the outbreak in May 3, 2023. Besides the loses of lives and properties, the most painful thing in the eyes of the world is the burning down of over 350 churches, out of which 236 are Meitei churches, and that were also done by the Meitei themselves. The fact is that these churches were ruthlessly destroyed by the extremists whose identity is known to the government much better than anyone else is striking the conscience of everyone who values the freedom of conscience and the right of all individuals to freely profess and practice religion in their respective places of worship.

The world is silently watching the unfolding development where the Meitei Christians are made to bear the brunt at the hands of their own Meitei Community for reason not specified. Sadly, there is no end in sight of the Meitei-Kuki conflict and peace is still at big distance.

The world is also indignantly keeping track of the integrity of the government authorities as elected representatives of the state. To cite (not to accuse him at any level), the CM as democratically elected Chief Minister, belongs to all communities and not just to his own Meitei people. He ought to be grateful to God for giving him the privilege to serve the Nagas, Kukis and Meiteis for the second term as the Chief Minister of Manipur. Without prejudice he ought to give his duty-bound service to the people with the sense of impartiality. 

The most crucial responsibility the Meiteis in particular and all the communities of Manipur in general have to shoulder now is to be fully accountable for what has happened to the churches and surrender oneself to the fact that God remains fully sovereign over everything on earth. Please, let everyone remember that our service is to serve humanity and serving humanity is serving God. To err is human but to forgive and correct is divine.

Now, what has been destroyed is our focus. The façade of religious intolerance has to be erased for good, and the site of destroyed churches, be it of Meiteis or Kukis, must be given back to the original owner for restoration. We write this, because many unruly people are on the grabbing spree to grab the lands of the Christians where Churches were standing majestically tall. However, the expectation of the world at large over the Meitei Community is that they have to prove themselves demonstratively that they are a civilized people and not the other way round. There is one foremost important thing which all the Meiteis are bound to realize and admit that, the Meitei community is not exclusively of the Vaishnavite Hinduism and Sanamahism only as testified by the 236 burnt Meitei Churches of different denominations by the Meitei radicals. This is a fact, not accusation.

The reason we write this letter is, because, we would love to see that normalcy is restored in Manipur and healing is taken place giving chance to humanity. And for that matter, the Meitei Community must exercise magnanimity and not allow insanity to take over the situation by resorting to forceful occupation of the holy worship places of the Christians and convert church premises into something that is not connected to the desire of the church owners. What is also a matter of exigency is intimidation to minority Meitei, Kuki Christians by radicals must be controlled totally. Tolerance and sense of humanity is extremely urgent to prevent escalation of violence spilled over into other areas.

At this critical juncture where every hour counts, we would like to draw the attention of the Chief Minister, N Biren Singh and the MP Leishemba Sanajaoba, the titular Maharaja, because their broadminded services are the need of the hour. May these two great leaders show their big-hearted responsibility, respecting the sentiments of every ethnic group. Being human, it may not be possible for them to agree with everything and everyone but when it comes to the matter of Church, let us take note of scriptural admonitions and held the sanctity of the house of worship with awe. Church does not carry any ethnic identity but it is the symbol of religious freedom and people’s love and obedience to stay attached with God who created them. We believe you will agree with us in this matter, and therefore, act with generous hearts.

We also wondered why the authority in your hands has remain silent when the smoke of the burning churches crossed the sky of Imphal valley.  It has become the most abominable thing for any sensible and responsible person to look at such ghastly incident as mute spectator.  Certainly, this has brought tears to the eyes of many. Remember the Holy Scriptures that say: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord GOD.” (Rom 12:19 KJV).

Finally, through this appeal letter, we, from the bottom of our hearts, would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families, prayers for speedy recovery to the injured ones, and consolation to every people who have been adversely affected by the riots. The God who sees everything may wait for a while but let us rest assured that He will bring the culprits to justice without delay. For now, may we encourage you to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet 5:7 NIV).

In conclusion, we pray that this letter finds you in good spirit and let the Almighty God bestow upon you the quality of transformational, democratic, situational and benevolent leadership as demanded by the burning situation. In God we put our hope and through Him let all these virtues of leadership be upon the leadership of Manipur.