Christian organizations in Nagaland seek urgent intervention of the President of India on Manipur violence and rebuilding of churches and other religious institutions
By Imna Longchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent
With uncertainty still prevailing in the state of Manipur since May 3 and the ongoing ethnic strife that has killed many, injuring and displacing many including women and children, Nagaland Joint Christian Forum (NJCF), Christian Forum Dimapur (CFD), along with Nagaland Theological Colleges Association (NTCA) held a “Prayer and Candle Light Service” on Sunday evening for restoration and pursuit of peace in Manipur at the Dimapur District Sports Council (DDSC) Stadium, Golaghat Road, Dimapur, Nagaland.
The service for the same was held on the theme “Pursue Peace And Justice” quoted from Psalm 34:14, and Isaiah 1:17 respectively. Seeking urgent intervention of the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, on the Manipur issue and rebuilding of churches which has been destroyed or burnt in the months long tribal conflicts, a representation letter which was submitted by the Christian Forum Dimapur (CFD, Nagaland, on August 31 through the governor of Manipur stated that the situation in Manipur has reached such a “critical juncture” with escalating tensions causing “distress and upheaval” among its residence.
It was also highlighted that the CFD had to report on the destruction of several churches and religious structures during the time of conflict which according to them, these institutions have “historically” played a vital role in fostering a sense of community, promoting values of peace and harmony thereby important services to the to the people as a whole.
The letter to the President of India, also read that in the spirit of “unity and inclusivity” the Nation stands for, and for which the CFD asked the esteemed office to “humbly implore” to immediately intervene in addressing the Manipur issue while citing that the latter’s “guidance and influence” could pave ways for a “meaningful dialogue and resolution” in ensuring the restoration of peace and stability in the region.
While beseeching the office to initiate efforts for the construction of the damaged churches and other religious institutions which symbolizes its commitment towards religious freedom and unity, the Christian Forum Dimapur (CFD) also highlighted the office of the President of India to facilitate the individuals displaced by the conflict and presently arranged in different relief camps, who are in dire need of assistance.
CFD also requested to facilitate their (displaced) safe and dignified repatriation to their homes by ensuring that they could rebuild their lives with the support of the government.
Convener, FNR, Dr Wati Aier, who was among one of the speakers voiced out to all those attendees, mostly comprising of school students, and women representatives clad in their respective tribal attires, pointed out that the assembly of the many were gathered to affirm faith and human-hood as according to him all irrespective of genders, languages, customs, and culture have been created by a “special designer”.
Stating that in today’s globalized world “religious and cultural plurality is the inescapable reality”, Rev Dr Aier also maintained that “pluralism understood” as a “political agenda” is a constructive position for any nation for which any group of people and any political order that advocates a single political order must “debunk” that theory immediately before succumbing to a state of “self-annihilation”.
“Those who push for a singleness of ideology is good for fighting, not for living together in peace. Let us not allow the clash of the civilization to destroy us but replace it with a vision of cooperation with all who are different yet have much in common in our humanness,” Rev Dr Wati Aier
Also mentioning that one should be able to say “no” to societies and nations that advocate”exclusiveness”, therefore at the same time called on to have “repressive” towards the so called “different ones”, Rev Dr Aier said that as a follower of the Christ, let not these hands be empty and to grasp these open hands to hold it firmly which according to him is the “offer of life”.
Others who also spoke in the programme chaired by Nini Sekhose, CFD Treasurer, and Dimapur Baptist Pastor’s Fellowship (DBPF), K Thenjamo Tsanglao, invoking God’s blessings, included DBWU president, Khontale Seb, and vice-president, Nagaland Joint Christian Forum (NJCF), Dr N Paphino. The welcome address was delivered by CFD chairman, Rev Moses Murry, while the vote of thanks was given by secretary, CFD, Fr Dr CP Anto, where he on behalf of the CFD extended his gratitude to all the participants and the speakers
On behalf of WSBAK executive secretary, Rev. Dr Phughoto Sema, the representation was read out by a representative. The praise and worship teams were led by the students of Golden Crown Theological (GCT), Nagarjan, Dimapur, which also witnessed the choral presentations by Trinity Theological College (TTC), Thahekhu, and Oriental Theological Seminary (OTS), Bade, Dimapur. Later after the official programme, a candlelight mass and benediction was offered by CFD advisor, Rev Dr L. Kari Longchar.
CFD 3rd visits to Manipur for relief work The CFD team led by Rev. Moses Murry, Chairman, Rev. Vitoshe Swu, Vice chairman, Rev. Dr. N Paphino, Adviser and Archbishop Thomas, Guwahati, visited the trouble torn Manipur from August 26 to 28 where the team visited two Meitei relief camps at Moirang district and two Kuki relief camps at Churachandpur.
The team also met and had a prayer fellowship with All Manipur Christian Organisation (AMCO), Meteis Christian Churches Council Manipur, (MCCCM), Kuki Baptist Association (KBA) and Kuki’s Christian Leaders Fellowship (KCLF).
Sharing a good time and also praying together with regard to the present situation faced by the people of Manipur and the Christian community in particular, the visiting team exhorted the leaders to uphold their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and work together with great hope for restoration of peace and Justice in the state of Manipur. The team members also assured that they would organise a joint meeting with the Christian leaders of Meities and Kukis at the earliest in order to strengthen and restore back the relationship between the
two communities irrespective of their faith. It further extended its gratitude to AMCO, MCCCM, KBA and KCLF for organising the programme for the CFD team’s visit and making it a great impact and success.