This statement has been issued by Apoorvanand, John Dayal, ASR Mary Scaria SCJM, AC Michael, Minakshi Singh, Shabnam Hashmi
“Citizens and the Christian community in India note the irony of the year 2023 where summer began with the burning of churches and the killing of Christians in the valley of Imphal in Manipur, and ends with religious leaders felicitating the Prime Minister on Christmas for his great contribution to the welfare of this small community, and the county at large.
“Through the year, the Christian community, including its Bishops and clergy, had been pleading with the prime minister to visit Manipur, a site of the severe communal crimes and human tragedy since Gujarat 2002 and Kandhamal, Orissa 2008. Perhaps he could not find the time, leaving to his home minister and the state’s chief minister who the people allege has been casual in tackling the genocide, if not complicit it by patronising the criminal think private militias.
“Despite the intervention of the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of India, the only thing that has happened is the cremation and burial of the bodies of the Kuki Zo did which had been rotting in various Imphal hospital.
“Fifty thousand Kuki-Zo-Hmar people continue to live in hard conditions in refugee camps run by various church groups. [[Churches belonging to the Meitei community have also been torched, destroyed. ]] Unemployment and malnourishment stalk the hills, and private armies rule the highways. There is no administration in the hills. But it is not about Manipur alone.
“The persecution of the community is rampant, hate towards it from the highest quarters of nationalist religious leadership as deep as it can be. The government seems keen to starve it out of existence by withdrawing the FCRAs of a vast number of churches and its NGOs, and using the investigating agencies against Cardinals and Bishops, Pastors and lay people.
“In Uttar Pradesh (UP) for instance, nearly 100 pastors and even ordinary men and women are in jail under charges of illegal conversions when all they were doing was celebrating birthdays or conducting Sunday prayers. Every international and national human rights body has indicted India for its treatment of religious minorities, especially Muslims and Christian. The United Christian forum has in its annual report said here are two incidents of prosecution a day in the country. Apart from Prosecution, arrests, the crisis of schools and other institutions, the massive social issue of the Dalit Christians remains. The Modi government’s spokespersons have been particularly harsh on it.
“The Prime minister is not only free but duty bound to embrace the nation’s religious minorities and invite their leaders to functions at his house on Christmas and important days.
“We remember when Christmas carols were a part of the Rashtrapati Bhawan Calendar. Similarly, as citizens, Bishops and Cardinals and others too are duty bound to felicitate their political leaders and rulers.
“But the Christmas spirit must not let us forget the condition and tribulations of our brothers and sisters who suffer because of government impunity and the brazen political elements who have no respect for the Constitution of India and its guarantees of freedoms to the citizens. We wish our countrymen greetings of the Christmas season and the coming New Year.”
New Delhi, December 29, 2023