A ‘complete collapse of the constitutional machinery in the State’ has happened in India’s troubled north-eastern region of Manipur, according to an assessment produced by Roman Catholic authorities in the Archdiocese of the capital, Imphal.
The report obtained by Premier Christian News details the destruction, stating ’the Catholic Church and its institutions have suffered the fury of the mob in at least 10 places’, including churches, pastoral training centres and Catholic schools of higher education.
Referring to an attack on St Paul’s Parish located in Sangaiprou in Imphal, it says ‘Windowpanes, doors, Interior of the church, statues, crucifix, sound system, musical instruments, etc. and whatever was in the church were smashed and the altar set on fire. The fire was put off by the catechist trainees who live in the same campus’.
It then goes on to describe how the building was set on fire, saying 'the following day, attackers ‘walked into the church, collected the cooking gas cylinders from the kitchen .. and after piling up all the pews and valuables they smashed, looted, and burnt both the Church and the .. building.’ It says the priests were ‘left with no choice’ but to ‘run for safety’.
According to the report, even though the violence began on 3 May 2023, ‘burning of houses even in the heart of the Imphal city continues to happen’. Questioning why the federal government in Delhi has not intervened, the document asks ‘One wonders why the President’s Rule is still not an option’?
The document published in Manipur on 15 June describes what it calls ‘unprecedented violence and unrest’ and says ‘violence and arson continues unabated’. The statement adds ‘precious lives have been lost, houses/villages burned or destroyed, belongings vandalized and looted, places of worship desecrated and set ablaze’.
According to the assessment, over 50,000 people have been ‘displaced and rendered homeless’ and there is ‘fear, uncertainty and a general sense of hopelessness and desperation’ in the state.