“‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from me,’ says the Lord.”
(Isaiah 54:17 NKJV)
Millions across India are feeling ashamed over a viral video that shows two women being paraded naked on a public road in the northeastern state of Manipur, while a mob molests and assaults them. According to a report filed by the survivors, who are both Christian, at least one of them, aged 21, was gang-raped.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of the Roman Catholic Church has said that he “bows his head in shame” over the images, stating, “This is a blot on our country, a disgrace for India.”
Roman Catholic Archbishop Dominic Lumon of Imphal added that he was “appalled and grieved. … Fear is pervasive even now and peace remains a dream for us.”
The women were violated on 4 May but the 26-second-long footage has only emerged now because the government has been blocking Internet connections across Manipur, including mobile data and broadband services. The Internet remains shut down in large parts of Manipur.
It was on 3 May that systematic violence in Manipur erupted, after the Kuki tribe, most of whom are Christians, protested against a demand from ethnic Meitei, most of whom are Hindu, for the “Scheduled Tribe” status that would allow them to buy land in the hills populated by Kukis and to ensure a share of government jobs. The protest was turned into an excuse for violent mobs to destroy 1,700 houses and burn down more than 360 churches and buildings within 36 hours.
This was one of the worst targeted attacks on Christians in the state. A Meitei Christian has observed that the large-scale attack on churches across communities reveals a religious angle behind the violence. So far, more than 160 people have been killed and 70,000 are displaced. All that remains of many churches are charred walls, collapsed tin roofs, and smashed windows. Most churches are empty on Sundays and many worshippers fear there will be more violence.
The Manipur state government and police have been accused of refusing to assist the Kukis who have been attacked, including neglecting to investigate reports of rape and torture. The state government is dominated by the Meitei community and has even been accused of being complicit in the violence against the Kuki minority by allowing Meitei gangs to act with impunity.
Moreover, when violence escalated throughout May, the Central Government did not offer a response. Instead, it is the Supreme Court that has expressed concern over the situation in Manipur and has now asked the Central Government to inform the court about steps it has taken to apprehend those responsible. Chief Justice Dhananjaya Chandrachud said, “It’s time that the government really steps in and takes action because this is simply unacceptable.”
The 2023 Open Doors World Watch List ranks India as the 11th most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian, owing to the rise of Hindu extremism and the increase in the number of states implementing anti-conversion laws.
Home Group Prayer
Dear Lord, our Father and Protector,
We lift up the broken state of Manipur up to you, and our brothers and sisters there who have suffered unspeakable violence and loss. Please make your presence very real to them at this time. May they not feel that they are alone and deserted, but that your Holy Spirit is with them, and that you are fulfilling your promise to never leave them nor forsake them (Deut 31:6).
We especially lift up the women of Manipur who are tormented by fear and shame. We pray that through your spirit and power they will know that they are inviolate and whole. Please help them overcome the brokenness they have endured. Thank you for the brave people who are standing up to speak about the situation, and please keep them safe from attacks.
Lord, we lift up the Manipur state and central Indian governments to you, as well as the Manipur police. May they be prompted to take swift action and not stand idly by. May you raise up leaders with a heart for the people and may they inspire the miscreants to lay down arms and give up violence completely. May your Spirit convict them of the wrongs they have perpetrated and permitted, and may they instead have a spirit of reconciliation. Please enable them to behave as humans should and not be biased due to political and religious affiliations.
At this time of crisis, we lift up the Christians in Manipur. May they claim victory in a manner befitting of your name and not be cowed down by the oppressors. Please raise up help from all and unexpected sources, and provide shelter and care for them. May they be able to raise up the standard of your Spirit against those who stand against them. May they think and speak peace and blessing, and be nourished in their body and spirit by your nearness.
We lift up the whole country of India to you, especially with the coming elections in 2024. We pray that there might be peace instead of division, unity in place of segregation, and love instead of communal hatred. We know that you are at work and that thousands are coming to know you in spite of the strife.
Thank you that you are always there for your children and that we can look to you in these dark times. Thank you that we are victorious in your Son and his blood that was shed for us.