Calls for swift action to end 'anti-Christian' violence in India

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Christians have made an urgent appeal to the Indian government to quell violence in the north east of the country that has killed dozens of people, believed to be mostly Christians.

Release International has received reports from India of Christians being attacked across 27 villages in Manipur, sometimes "in plain sight of state police and military, while mobs roamed the street".

At least 60 people are reported dead, while around 50 churches have been set on fire and destroyed.

The violence is concentrated on the Imphal Valley and Churachandpur, where tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.

Release International said the attacks were "anti-Christian".

Bishop Joseph D'Souza, of the Good Shepherd Church in India, has asked people to pray for Manipur and the people of India.

"The primary victims are the Christians. In this uncontrolled violence that took place in Manipur it was a systematic attack on the churches. I am told that in the plains almost all the churches are destroyed," he said.

He continued, "'There is no question about tribal Christians being in the middle of the storm that has erupted in Manipur at this time."

The Evangelical Fellowship of India has asked the government to take urgent action to restore peace and security to the region.

"We mourn the loss of innocent lives, destruction of homes, property, and the burning of multiple churches. Our hearts ache for the families left grieving," it said.

"We urge the government to take immediate measures to restore peace and ensure the safety and security of all its citizens.

"As a Christian body, representing evangelicals in India, we stand for the values of love, peace, and justice. We believe that every human being is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

"The recent incidents of violence go against these values and have caused great harm to the people of Manipur. May the peace of Christ be with us all."

Mervyn Thomas, founder president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, has issued a similar appeal.

"The violence in Manipur is not surprising, but deeply worrying given the trend towards greater tensions between ethnic and religious minorities under the Modi government," he said.

"We urge the state and central governments to act swiftly to stop further violence and to ensure that people who have been displaced or stranded are cared for.

"We also call on the government in Manipur to ensure that all citizens are afforded opportunities for economic and social advancement, regardless of whether they are granted Scheduled Tribe status."