India: Prayers urged after 17 Christians killed, 100 churches burned
The violence has stemmed from the conflict between several ethnic groups who live in Manipur. The ethnic group with the biggest population, the Meitei, are mostly Hindu. One of the other groups, the Kuki tribe, are majority Christian. Their primary disagreements are about who qualifies for preferential treatment from the government, which is usually reserved for smaller, less prosperous tribes like the Kuki. The Kuki held a rally on May 3 to protest changes to these policies—and they were attacked violently.
These protests and disagreements turned violent at the beginning of May. Some Kuki protestors burned vehicles and buildings, and extremists from the Hindu Meitei responded by burning down entire Kuki villages, including churches. Neha*, an Open Doors local partner, says: “No social media or news channel is reporting the persecution that the Christians are facing. The situation is gruesome … [Christians] have lost their churches, houses and belongings.”
Christian leaders have also suggested that the violence has a religious component that goes beyond mere ethnic tensions. “While the Kukis and other tribals in the districts close to Imphal are the main targets as a community, the churches targeted include those of the Christians in the Meitei community,” All India Catholic Union spokesman John Dayal told The Hindu.
Though the situation is calmer, tensions remain incredibly high, and Christians are faced with the reality of needing to rebuild entire communities.
India ranks No. 11 on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List. In recent years there has been a big increase in Hindutva, an ideology that believes only Hindus are true Indians, and that Christians, Muslims and other religious minorities have “foreign” roots and must be expelled. Hindu extremists seem able to attack others with impunity, even using extreme violence in some parts of the country.
Our Open Doors local partners have asked you and every Christian to speak out about what’s happening—and to pray. “People are living in fear and are skeptical of what the next hour holds,” Neha says. “We need your help in raising a voice against the injustice and atrocities faced by the Christians.” — Open Doors US
Local church partners tell us this is how we can pray:
- Please pray for the situation to calm down; there are several Open Doors partners and persecuted believers from Myanmar and India living in and around the affected areas.
- Pray for the tribal Christian refugees who are taking shelter in the refugee camps as their houses are burned and destroyed.
- Pray for the Christian families whose members have been killed in the violence.
- Pray for the peace in the affected areas as the clashes turn into religious persecution.
- Ask God that His people would be instruments of His peace.