Shillong (Fides Service) – “Thousands are homeless, thousands of students are without lessons. Innocent people die. May God forgive those who commit such evil. The violence does not even spare religious ministers or places of worship. Seeds of hatred can never produce a good harvest”, Archbishop Dominic Jala, of Shillong told Fides while the local Catholic Church with local NGOs is organising assistance for the homeless and victims of the conflict in Assam and Meghalaya states in north east India .
A wave of violence has struck the area which former British colonial rulers found difficult to control and which has always struggled for independence from New Delhi, for reasons of ethnic, linguistic cultural differences. Over the years the central ha government tried to suppress the rebellion with force but guerrilla war has lasted for over 50 years in Nagaland, Assam, Mizoara, Manipur, Meghalaya states.
This ethnic violence involves in particular the Karbi Khasi, as well as immigrants to Bihar in search of work. The United Front for the Liberation of Assam (Ulfa) threatens to kill the immigrants and has told them to leave the state.
The archbishop told Fides that Catholic students were also subject to violence. Eldrin Tisso, lay student in theology at the Sacred Heart College in Shillong, was beaten and burned and had to be taken to Shillong hospital. Two Salesian novices and a seminarians were forced to flee their college. The Archbishop has asked the governors of Assam and Meghalaya states to take measures to stop the violence and restore harmony.
(PA) (Fides Service 24/11/2003 lines 29 words 313)