ASIA/INDIA - Indian students' appeal: "Save Manipur"

Thursday, 13 July 2023 peace   violence   reconciliation   youth  

New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - While the media and political attention seems to be waning on the social situation in Manipur, the scene of inter-ethnic violence, students from various Indian schools scattered throughout the country have launched an appeal that is circulating in public demonstrations and on social media: "Save Manipur!". Among the various gatherings, students, teachers and staff members of "St. Alfonso Fusco's Higher Secondary School" near Madurai, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, have held a public prayer vigil in recent days to support the people of Manipur and remember the victims of violence. Through this prayer movement, students expressed their feelings and concerns for the many young people who are suffering, urging the Union government to act immediately to end the riots and bring peace to Manipur. "In Manipur, great suffering overwhelms the civilian population. Young and old have died due to hostility between ethnic and religious groups. There are many people without shelter and food. Many children have lost their parents and many parents have lost their children", reads the appeal. "The uprising in Manipur - continues the text - is a conflict between local tribes. More than 100 people lost their lives and more than 1,000 were injured. It is necessary to mobilize for peace. We are delighted to organize a prayer meeting for this cause. Let us pray that the riots stop as soon as possible".
The school where the movement has gathered, which also welcomes young people from other origins, has the motto "Let's save humanity, let's value human life". Founded in 1988, it bears the name of Saint Alfonso Maria Fusco, founder of the congregation of the Sisters of Saint John the Baptist, who run the institute. Many young people also joined the "Interfaith Forum for Peace and Harmony" in Manipur, which organized a new demonstration in Imphal, the state capital, to demand an end to the current violence and the start of a dialogue between the two ethnic groups in conflict. Some 500 people belonging to different religious traditions and ethnic communities participated in the demonstration held on July 11 to demand an end to the clashes between the Meitei and Kuki ethnic groups. Five MPs from Kerala and Tamil Nadu also joined the rally to express their solidarity with interfaith initiatives.
Deben Bachaspatimayum, coordinator of the Forum, which brings together representatives of Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim and traditional faiths, said: "People of all ages and genders participated in the demonstration: they are Indian citizens who are concerned about what is happening, who bring their fundamental values of humanity in different religions and communities". And he continued: "We mourned together the deaths caused by violence; we offered healing prayers for the victims and expressed solidarity with the displaced; we have united as citizens calling for a ceasefire and dialogue". Christians of various denominations have also gathered in recent days at the tomb of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta to pray for peace in Manipur. Those present denounced "the sinister political game of those who intend to take advantage of violence". Christian leaders from various parts of India have said they are willing to visit Manipur to experience first-hand the suffering of the people, do what they can to alleviate the agony and be a presence of peace in the midst of the conflict. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 13/7/2023)