“It is very hard to explain the situation of our land. I believe God is protecting us and will protect. Most believers are in trauma.”
—Kuber*, an Indian Christian from the Kuki tribe
“The violence that is taking place in front of our eyes is unexplainable. We cannot stop crying. May the LORD save His people.”
—Richard*, an Indian Christian from the Meitei people group
The obvious violence in Manipur has drawn to a close. Things seem calm. But it might be a mistake to think that peace has come to this state in the northeast of India
. Open Doors
partners on the ground even say this region is “on the brink of civil war.”
So why is this happening? What’s the situation currently? What is happening to Christians? And how can you pray and help?
Our Open Doors field team has spent the last two weeks talking with our local partners in Manipur, and they answered some of these vital questions:
On May 3, tensions between the Kuki tribe (who are majority Christian) and the majority-Hindu Meitei people in Manipur State, northeast India, escalated into violence. The community-wide rioting led to the burning of more than 200 churches and the deaths
of more than 60 believers.
Tensions have been brewing between these two groups for decades. But the root of the most recent violence was Manipur’s pro-Hindu government deciding to give the Meitei people additional land and benefits, combined with the eviction of the Christian Kukis
from their ancestral land. The Kuki tribe protested these actions, and the protests led to the violence.
What is happening to Christians?
After the tribal members protested, extremists from within the Meitei ethnic group used this as an opportunity to attack churches—not only Christian churches from the Kuki tribe, but also Christian churches from among the Meitei, most of whom are coverts
More than 230 churches have been burned. Christians from both the Meitei and Kuki have left their homes and are being told to renounce their faith and accept Hinduism. Even two weeks after the burning of churches on May 3, Open Doors local partners report
that one extremist group is actively searching for Christian leaders and pastors—likely to kill them.
Many Christians from the majority-Hindu Meitei group are being forced to reconvert to Hinduism. Though some of the Kuki have returned to their tribal land, believers among the Meitei are still facing attacks.
Due to the sensitive situation, even Open Doors local partners have faced tremendous loss and are themselves seeking shelter in refugee camps. Many believers are also still hiding in hill areas and border areas.
What’s the current situation?
It is not safe for outsiders to enter the affected areas; people who are able to are able to fly out of the area are taking refuge in the border states of Manipur.
Many people suffered loss of life and loss of property. People do not have food, shelter are still facing threats and physical violence. The internet has been shut down since May 3 and still hasn’t been restored. Access to ATMs has been cut off. Food
and fuel prices are also four times higher. Food supplies and military trucks were burned, and many people have suffered from mental and physical losses.
What does the future look like for Manipur—and for the Christians there?
Open Doors’ local partners believe things will get worse. Some say a civil war might break out. Christians in Manipur are expected to face more persecution through forced conversion, physical violence and loss of life. There is also fear that the violence
will spread to surrounding states.
How can we, as God’s people, help in this situation?
It is important that the global church speaks out, supports and prays for the Christians affected in Manipur. This is much more than an ethnic clash. Manipur is known for its large Christian population and strong church groups.
As of latest field reporting, over 230 churches have been burned, over 1,000 Christian houses and institutions have been destroyed, and over 60 people have died. More than 10,000 Christians have been moved to safer places. It might take decades for the
community to re-establish itself and stand as strong as it did before the violence.
This incident also shows how vulnerable Christians are in India; in most [of the country’s] states, Christians represent an even smaller minority. So if Christians can be targeted and attacked [like this] in a state like Manipur, how bad might their condition
be in other states?
Stand with God's people
Open Doors local church partners responded immediately to meet urgent needs and are preparing to provide long-term support. If you feel led, your gift today could meet similar needs for Christians in India and around the world.
How can I pray?
“We need churches’ prayers,” says Kuber*, a Kuki believer. “Please pray for us. Pray for the situation and pray for believers here.”
Other ways you can pray:
• Ask God to help the victims of the attacks, that He would rebuild the church in Manipur and that His people would be strengthened.
• Pray that God would calm the hearts of Christians who may want to fight back with violence. Ask Him to reassure them that vengeance is His.
• Pray for peace to break out—and that the presence of Christians in Manipur would be a blessing to both Hindu and Christian and would contribute to the growth of God’s people.
• Pray for God to change the hearts of the extremists who are targeting Christians. Ask Him to reveal the truth to them and that they would somehow see the love of Jesus in this situation, and turn to Him.