The northeastern Indian state of Manipur remains in a tense state of unease weeks after a devastating spate of violence led to the deaths of at least 73 individuals, most of them Christians, and the burning, damage, or destruction of nearly 400 churches.
The largely Christian tribals belonging to the Kuki-Zo communities, who reside on the hills of Churachandpur district, say two groups of the predominantly Hindu Meitei community — Arambai Tengoll, also known as “black-shirts,” and Meitei Leepun — were behind the violence. Meiteis are primarily settled in the Imphal Valley.
The violence, which began on May 3, primarily engulfed the Imphal Valley and Churachandpur, causing at least four days of turmoil. The region remains fraught with tension as authorities fear possible reprisal attacks due to the significant accumulation of weapons within both involved communities.
During this period of hostility, the escalating violence has not only claimed a minimum of 73 lives, out of which about 64 were Christian tribals but also left 200 people injured. More than 1,700 residences suffered damage, complete destruction, or saw their homes set ablaze. The turmoil has forced about 50,000 individuals to abandon their homes, of whom roughly 35,000 belong to Christian tribal communities.
The houses of Meiteis in the Christian tribal-majority Churachandpur have also been damaged or destroyed.
A local source informed The Christian Post that the violence and ensuing tensions have caused a complete exodus of tribal residents from the Imphal Valley. Similarly, all Meiteis previously residing or working in Churachandpur, including government and police officials, have fled the area.
According to the source, Christian organizations in the area have recorded the burning, damage, or destruction of 397 churches and six Christian institutions amid the wave of violence. Significantly, these churches primarily served as places of worship for Meitei Christians. It is alleged that these structures were primarily targeted and destroyed by Meitei Hindus.
Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal, whose jurisdiction covers the entirety of Manipur, has launched an appeal for funds to assist those impacted by the violence.
He warns of a “general sense of hopelessness and desperation” throughout the region, acknowledging that all communities, regardless of their affiliation, are affected by the ongoing strife.
Fr. Varghese Velikakam, Vicar General of the Diocese of Imphal, criticized local police for their failure to prevent the attacks and questioned the lack of guards after attempted assaults. Videos of the violence show police looking on or participating in the violence on tribal people.
Despite the apparently targeted nature of these attacks, Fr. Varghese advised the Church to act cautiously, maintain neutrality and promote peace and unity.
Northeast India has had long-standing ethnic tensions. In Manipur, the Meiteis and the tribal communities have long been at odds over issues such as land ownership and affirmative action policies.
After winning the 2017 state election, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, reclassified the majority of tribal settlements as reserved forests, effectively treating them as illegal immigrants. This move, along with the Meiteis’ ongoing quest for recognition as a tribal group, has significantly exacerbated tensions between the two groups.
Manipur’s highest court’s recent instruction to the government last month to consider the Meiteis’ demand for legal recognition as a tribal group has further stirred anxiety among the tribal communities. The recent outbreak of violence was triggered when a tribal student group protested against this demand.
The Hindu Meiteis and Christian tribals each constitute approximately 42% of the state’s population. Despite this balance, the Meiteis have historically held dominance in the state’s political and economic spheres.
Critics also point to Chief Minister Singh’s past orders to demolish churches in Imphal, under the allegation of illegal construction on government-owned land, as a significant strain on inter-community relations.
The widespread violence and targeted attacks against the Christian community have raised concerns about the potential escalation of religious conflict in the region.
As these communities grapple with the aftermath, Manipur remains under a dark cloud of uncertainty, its future dictated by both the government’s ability to quell tensions and the communities’ willingness to engage in peace-building efforts.
Across the world persecution of Christians is intensifying exactly as the Bible prophesied would be the case prior to Jesus’ return to end this period of earth’s history when God has allowed Satan to be Prince over fallen mankind. We are told Jesus appears first in the heavens and the dead in Christ are raised first then the Saints living on earth will be raptured to meet Jesus in the air.
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
God then pours out His wrath upon an unrepentant world with the Trumpet (7) and Bowl judgements (7) prior to Jesus returning to earth with the transfigured Saints, first to destroy the Antichrist, False Prophet, and their army and then to establish Jesus’ Millennial Kingdom on this earth. The Antichrist and the False Prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire and Satan into the Abyss for almost the entire 1000 years.
“Then I (John) saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.” Revelation 20:1-3
“Also, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6
To be prepared for the coming Millennial reign of Jesus and the Saints on this earth; go to http://www.millennialkingdom.net