A viral video depicting disturbing incidents of violence against Christian women from the Kuki Tribe in Manipur, India has sent shockwaves across India and the global community. Further Reports of sexual assault and the naked parading of women have prompted widespread outrage and calls for justice (click here).
Protests and strikes have erupted as campaigners demand the arrest of the perpetrators and justice for the victims (click here).
Clashes erupted between different tribal groups in Manipur over property rights and demands for Scheduled Tribe status. The conflict has led to the displacement of over 30,000 people, predominantly Christians, who have lost their homes and places of worship. More than 250 churches and numerous houses were burned in the violence, leaving many families in dire need of assistance (click here).
Dr. Vuchula Satyanandam, the lead officer of British Asian Christian Association in India, shared an update on the current situation:
“The turmoil in Manipur has left many Christians, particularly from the Kuki Tribe, displaced and in dire conditions.
“Law and order have deteriorated, and the safety of our team and other non-residents is a significant concern.
“We are committed to providing relief to those in need and are actively working with local pastors to expand our aid efforts.”
The British Asian Christian Association has launched a relief program with the aim of addressing the immediate needs of the displaced population. Despite facing travel restrictions and challenges posed by ongoing violence, we remain dedicated to providing essential supplies such as food, water, blankets, and medicine to relief camps in three districts of Manipur.
To begin with, we are working in collaboration with Paotingen Vaiphen, from the Kuki Christian Church in Kangpokpi, who has offered shelter to over 300 displaced individuals. While we have already contributed £1000 to the church, we acknowledge that this is just a small contribution, considering the magnitude of the situation. Our appeal for donations is ongoing, and we are urging anyone who has been touched by this plight to contribute (here)
“We recognize the urgency of the situation and remain steadfast in our commitment to providing support to those affected by this crisis,” stated Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee at British Asian Christian Association. “Our focus is on ensuring the well-being of the displaced families and collaborating with local partners to offer assistance.”
We had initially planned to create a comprehensive video report on the situation in Manipur but had to alter our approach due to travel limitations, while the state of Manipur is under martial law. Instead, BACA is working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of the displaced communities and is exploring avenues to expand its aid efforts.
On April 14, 2023, the Manipur High Court ordered the state government, in response to a writ petition by the Metei Tribe Union seeking Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community, to recommend this to the central government. However, the Supreme Court later criticized this decision.
The Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act of 1960 imposes limitations on the transfer of tribal land to non-tribals, requiring special permission for such transactions. However, the landscape could potentially shift if the Meitei people attain scheduled status. This current legal framework serves to inhibit both the Meitei and other communities from encroaching into hill districts.
Kuki and Naga People and other minority tribes perceive this move as an effort to undermine their demands, potentially allowing the Meitei to expand into hill regions. Many members of these Hill tribes have been evicted by the state Government after the BJP regime labelled them as encroachers and poppy-farmers.
The Meitei community, primarily based in the Imphal valley, holds significant influence in the political establishment. Among the 60 Assembly constituencies, 40 are in the valley and 20 in hill tribes’ areas. The Kuki and Naga people have expressed concern over biased spending, claiming that a majority of funds are directed towards the Imphal Valley where the Meitei reside.
To protest the High Court’s order, the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur called for a peaceful protest on May 3. Following one such rally, clashes between Kuki and Meitei groups erupted.
On May 4th, groups of Hindus initiated a violent rampage targeting the Christian Kuki Communities, resulting in the destruction of homes and churches. Amidst this turmoil, a distressing video depicting the sexual molestation and public humiliation of two women began circulating widely. Militant Meitei Hindus played a role in spreading these videos on social media, using them as a means to both demean Christians and assert their own dominance.
As of July 25th, a total of 7 Meitei Hindus had been apprehended in connection with their participation in the violent incidents, sexual molestation, and rape portrayed in the viral video. This figure appears disproportionately low when juxtaposed with the evident presence of at least 30 distinct individuals in the video. Additionally, it’s crucial to acknowledge that numerous other instances of sexual assault have occurred in the aftermath of the violence, where Hindus have tragically employed violence and rape as tools to instill fear within the Christian community. Regrettably, no arrests have been reported in relation to the arson and looting of Christian residences and places of worship.