Anti-Christian 'mob' killed in 'retaliatory strike' amidst ethnoreligious strife in northeastern India

 June 16, 2023

Nine members of an anti-Christian "mob" were killed in a "retaliatory strike" in northeastern India, amidst ethnoreligious strife in the region.

The killings occurred in Manipur, a remote state of India troubled by longstanding ethnic rivalries that exploded into conflict in May.

The area is split between the mostly Hindu Meiteis, who live in the valley, and various predominantly Christian hill-dwelling tribal groups such as the Kukis.

The Hindu reported that nine were killed and ten injured in a "retaliatory strike" in the village of Khamenlok, located in the predominantly Christian Kangpokpi district.

Violence rocks India

The dead were part of a "raiding mob" of Meitei who were likely killed by Kuki village guards "in retaliation for the torching of houses by Meitei groups in Kuki villages over the past three days," the report said.

A rumor spread online that the casualties had been drinking and celebrating inside a church after burning a village when they were intercepted by Kuki fighters.

A mob burned the home of a Kuki official in Imphal, the state capital, Wednesday. No one was injured in the arson.

The Kukis have described the conflict in Manipur as a state-backed campaign of ethnic cleansing led by the right-wing Hindu nationalist party JBP, which controls Manipur and is led by India's prime minister Narendra Modi.

Persecution of Christians throughout India has been a rising problem for years, with some blaming Modi for emboldening Hindu nationalists.

Churches burned

The strife in Manipur began when the Meitei people demanded Scheduled Tribe status, a government designation for certain minority groups in India that receive special benefits.

While the conflict does not appear to be entirely religious, local tribal leaders in Manipur say that over 200 churches and thousands of homes have been burned.

About 100 have died in the hostilities in Manipur, which has a population that is about 40 percent Christian. Just 2 percent of India's entire population is Christian.

The Modi government dispatched its minister of home affairs to Manipur to cool tensions, and state security services have been sent to the region, but local Christians claim they aren't being protected by the government. Curfews have been imposed and the internet has been shut down.

Modi enjoyed friendly relations with President Trump, and President Biden has continued that course amidst America's cold war with China. Biden will host Modi at a state dinner next week.

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