THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Opposition Congress expressed concern about the terrible events in Manipur on Sunday and urged the BJP-ruled Centre to protect the safety of Malayalees stuck in the northeastern state. This came a day after the top body of the Catholic Church in Kerala denounced the alleged ethnic violence there.
V D Satheesan, the leader of the opposition (LoP) in the state assembly and a leader of the Congress, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask him to safeguard the safety of Malayalees stranded in Manipur and to assist them in returning to Kerala. Concerns over "the tragic events of vandalism of Christian churches and persecution of members of the Christian community in the state of Manipur" were also expressed by Satheesan in the letter.
He saidthat the Congress had peacefully run the northeastern state while it was in control, but that it had now turned into a "hotbed of intense sectarian conflict."
In dread of persecution, a large number of people have emigrated to other states and many others have died. Churches have been vandalized and set on fire in towns like Checkon, New Lambulane, Sangaiprou, and Game Village.
"The state's Christian population experiences severe intergroup conflict and insecurity. The violence is reportedly expanding to other regions of the nation, and the relevant governments must act quickly to stop it, as per the LoP.
He said that the crimes were exposed as a result of Mary Kom, a well-known boxer, raising awareness of the widespread communal violence in Manipur.
Since the incumbent administration launched an eviction drive against a certain ethnic group in February, tensions in Manipur have been building, said Satheesan.
He called it "unfortunate" and claimed that despite being supposed to uphold the fundamental rights to life and religious freedom, the state and federal governments "have become quiet spectators" to the violence.
"It breaks my heart to see our Christian brothers and sisters in Manipur being victimised because of their beliefs.
In order to prevent persecution of members of the Christian community and damage of Christian churches in the state of Manipur, Satheesan pleaded for your quick help.
The top body of the state's Catholic Church, the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council, had severely denounced the ethnic violence in Manipur the day before and urged the union government to take the required action to bring about peace in the northeastern state.
54 people have now died as a result of the ethnic unrest that has gripped Manipur, officials said on Saturday. Unofficial sources, however, estimated the death toll at over 100 and the number of injured at close to 200.
During the Wednesday "Tribal Solidarity March" planned by the All Tribal Student Union Manipur (ATSUM) to protest the Meiteis' demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) classification, violence first broke out in the Torbung area of Churachandpur district.
Tribals coordinated the march after the Manipur High Court ordered the state administration to provide a recommendation to the Centre regarding the Metei community's claim for ST status last month.
An armed crowd allegedly attacked members of the Meitei community during the march in Torbung, which sparked reprisals in the valley districts and increased the level of violence across the state.