Catholic Bishops' delegation visits conflict-ridden Manipur, calls for peace and rebuildingtext_fields
New Delhi: In a display of solidarity and concern, a high-level delegation led by Archbishop Andrews Thazhath, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), accompanied by Archbishop Dominic Lunn of the Archdiocese of Irriphal, Manipur, visited the conflict-ridden areas of Manipur.
The delegation, which also included Fr. Jervis D'Souza, Deputy Secretary General of CBCI, and Fr. Dr Paul Moonjely, Executive Director of Caritas India, witnessed the devastating aftermath of violence and destruction in the region.
The delegation visited the Kakching, Sugnu area, Pukhao, Canchipur, Sangaiprou, and other places that bore the brunt of the large-scale destruction of private homes, places of worship, schools, and institutions. “The once-thriving community of Sugnu, which used to be home to over a thousand families of various ethnicities, was now deserted and in ruins,” a CBCI press release said.
Heart-wrenching scenes greeted the delegation as they visited the Relief Camp at Indoor Stadium, Kakching, where they distributed essential relief items to the displaced. In an effort to provide immediate medical aid, the team also inaugurated a medical camp at Pukhou, it said.
Among the numerous institutions destroyed, St. Joseph's Higher Secondary School and Parish, which served as an educational and developmental hub for all communities, lay reduced to ashes. The Holy Redeemed Church in the Catholic School campus at Canchipur and the Regional Pastoral Training Centre and St. Paul's Parish at Sangaiprou suffered the same fate, leaving an indelible mark of loss on the community.
Archbishop Andrews Thazhath expressed his deep concern for those who had fled from these areas and the future of their children, given the prevailing mutual mistrust and fear. He emphasized the urgent need for rebuilding communities and institutions to restore hope and provide a safe environment for all.
Caritas India, the humanitarian response organization of CBCI, has been actively involved in providing relief assistance since the beginning of this crisis. Collaborating with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Diocesan Social Services Society (DSSS), Caritas India has already extended relief assistance worth 3 crores.
As per the CBCI's appeal, the Church in India has been actively supporting affected people through prayer, peace rallies, and resource mobilization, with a commitment to continue assisting in the rehabilitation and rebuilding process.
The delegation expressed its deep sadness over the prolonged violence in Manipur. It strongly condemned all forms of violence, atrocities, and attacks, especially on places of worship and vulnerable sections of society like women and children.
They called for increased accountability from law enforcement agencies in containing the violence and emphasized the importance of upholding the secular fabric and constitutional values of India.
As the delegation concluded their visit, they appealed to all concerned parties to initiate a process of dialogue and concentrate on the development of all sections of society, aiming to bring about lasting peace and harmony in India, particularly in the State of Manipur.
Various religious congregations and church fraternities have also stepped forward to assist, including material support, healthcare, and psycho-social aid in the relief camps.