Fears of civil war in Manipur after violent attacks on Christians
Fears of civil war in Manipur after violent attacks on Christians[photo1]
There are fears that weeks of violence against the Christian community in north-eastern India will lead to civil war.
The attacks in the state of Manipur have left at least 70 people dead and forced another 10,000 Christians from their homes.
The destruction has been widespread, with at least 300 churches burned or demolished and 1,000 Christian homes destroyed, Open Doors reports.
Such is the level of concern that the charity has launched an emergency appeal to support the beleaguered Christian community.
Its partners on the ground are already providing food aid and medical care but warn that conditions for those who have fled are "grim", with little support from the local government.
It is reported that Hindu nationalists are seeking out Christians to kill or forcibly convert to Hinduism.
One Open Doors partner in India, who cannot be named for security reasons, said that the Supreme Court has ordered the military to maintain peace and order in the region.
The Hindu nationalist local government, however, has done nothing to stop the violence.
"If the situation continues civil war is inevitable," he said.
"If there is a civil war the situation will only become more gruesome, more lives lost, properties destroyed and further open persecution of religious minorities."
Henrietta Blyth, Chief Executive of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said that Hindu extremists have used the communal violence "as a platform to further attack the Christian community".
"Churches from both the Meitei and Kuki sides were burned and demolished. Christians were beaten up and chased out of their homes.
"The minority tribes are hiding in IDP camps, protected by the military. They're fearing for their lives and rightly so.
"Hindu supremacist group Arambai Tenggol is forcibly re-converting Christians and reportedly seeking out church leaders to kill."
Christians who have fled are struggling to survive, with no access to ATMs, and food and fuel prices soaring.
"People don't have food or shelter and are still facing threats of physical violence," said Blyth.
"Food supply and military trucks were burned, and many people have suffered from mental and physical loss and are deeply traumatised."
She added, "If the worst happened and Manipur descends into civil war further down the line, the human suffering it would cause, on both sides, would be immeasurable."
Another local Open Doors partner said that people are "living in fear and are sceptical of what the future holds".
"We need your help in raising a voice against the injustice and atrocities faced by the Christians."