New Delhi: Catholic Church leaders in Kerala have criticised the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the ongoing violence in Manipur, with a bishop alleging that it is an act of “genocide sponsored by the government”.
The Catholic Church had previously expressed its support for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the party’s defeat in the Karnataka elections, which resulted in its expulsion from Southern India.
He had also suggested that they could support the Bharatiya Janata Party from the state if the price of rubber was hiked to Rs 300 per kg.
According to The News Minute, Joseph Pamplany, Archbishop of Thalassery diocese, had earlier referred to the Manipur violence as ‘a clash between two tribes’ and urged against using it for political gains.
However, he now alleges that the violence is sponsored by the government. He questioned how the assailants gained access to uniforms of the armed forces and police.
“Manipur is ruled by the regional unit of the party that is in power at the national level. The assailants in Manipur use the uniforms of armed forces and police. We should think how they got access to it. Is it government-sponsored violence to destroy a community they don’t like? Neither the Prime Minister nor any authorities were ready to disown the assailants or take any action,” he said, according to TNM.
He further said that those who provide support and create conditions favourable to the assailants cannot be believed when they deliver speeches about protecting the minorities, TNM reported.
He was referring to a statement made by Prime Minister Modi, while on a recent visit to the US, that there is “no question of discrimination on the grounds of caste, creed or religion” in India.
He countered Modi’s statement saying that the minority communities will no longer believe it.
“Initially, it began as violence between two tribes and we thought it would end soon. But it was slowly revealed to us that, in the name of a conflict between the tribes, there were planned, intentional efforts to destroy Christians. Now the Christians within both communities (the Meitei and Kuki) are being targeted. Many incomparable cruelties and murders are happening. More than 300 Christians have been killed, more than 500 churches were destroyed. This huge genocide is happening in Manipur,” TNM reported him as saying.
In the past, the bishop has received flak for supporting ‘love jihad’, a conspiracy theory propagated by right-wing groups that Muslim men engage in relationships with Hindu women to convert them under the guise of marriage.
“PM Modi, while addressing the US Congress said there is no discrimination in India. We are asking the honourable PM whether he can tell that there is no discrimination happening in India looking at the faces of Christians in Manipur. To keep up the power, some are cruelly hijacking the freedom of faith given by the Indian Constitution. This is not just confined to Manipur, Christians and Muslims are being victimised through brutal torture and unjustified mob attacks in North India,” he said.
“The authorities responsible are watching it silently. Many people are being lynched on the roads over mere suspicions. No believer hailing from a minority community can say that there is no discrimination in India,” he added.
The bishop also compared the Manipur violence to the 2002 Gujarat riots, the news outlet reported.
Others from the Catholic Church community criticised the Modi government for the ongoing violence in Manipur.
Jacob G. Palackapilly, the official spokesperson of Kerala Catholic Bishop Council, said that Narendra Modi is a man with double standards.
“In Manipur and in Karnataka, when BJP came to power, Christian institutions were attacked. Though the Indian media is silent about it, the international media is talking about it. When Christians and Muslims are attacked here others don’t feel secure. Small communities can be attacked anytime. Because India has a fascist government,” he said.
Another priest from Thalassery diocese, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Church leadership has realised the truth behind the Manipur violence.
“The situation in Manipur turned worse than we expected. We all already knew that BJP was getting close to us only for electoral gains, but the bishops had expected something else. Only now do they realise that it is a party that minorities cannot come close with. What is happening in Manipur is really is a genocide,” he said.