Christian leaders from different parts of the North East met in Guwahati last week with a commitment to solidarity among one another and those who are discriminated against.
The meeting took note of incidents against Christians in India, which, according to a press release from the Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum (KJCLF), include hate speech, humiliation and violence targeting individuals and groups, destruction and desecration of property and places of worship.
“Brutality and crime like the murder of Graham Staines in Odisha more than 20 years ago, barbaric abuses of human rights against Christian communities in Kandhamal in 2008 and many innumerable more in different parts of the country, especially in states where the ruling dispensation remain consensually silent against the perpetrators of these acts,” it added.
The participants in the meeting claimed that there has been a big increase in persecution against the Church in Assam, such as the “authorised census” of Christian individuals, families and groups in Assam, destroying the homes and displacing Boro families and other indigenes, the majority of whom are Christians, “in the guise of clearing encroachments on forests”. There was also the recent demand that tribals of non-indigenous faiths should lose their Scheduled Tribe status.
The KJCLF also said that hundreds of acres of tribal land and resources are being handed over to outsiders, “which is an effort towards the economic exploitation of our region” by stronger groups.
Tripura has already had its election but those of Christian-majority Nagaland and Meghalaya are to follow later this month.
The Christian forum’s call could have significance in these two states. The meeting’s attendees urged “our fellow Christians never to compromise on the principles taught to us by our faith – to stand by truth, justice and fairness. One should not succumb to false promises and short-term allurements. As individual voters, one must judiciously exercise our electoral privilege in the casting of our votes. One should be guided by an informed and clear conscience and elect able leaders who are just and fair, who shun corrupt practices, and those who are trustworthy and committed to the unity and good of our community and the nation.”
The church groups that participated in the meeting comprised the National Boro Christian Council, Assam Baptist Convention, Boro Baptist Church Association, Karbi Anglong Baptist Convention, All Manipur Christian Organisation, Catholic Church, UCF Karbi Anglong, Nagaland Joint Christian Forum, North Bank Baptist Christian Association, Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders Forum, Christ Church Guwahati, Assam Christian Forum, CCFNEI and Boro Baptist Convention.
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