The Interfaith Forum for Peace and Harmony, Manipur, organised a one-day Interfaith Fasting Prayer over the weekend in the north-eastern region of India.
The prayer meet at the Lainingthou Sanamahi Temple, Hayingkhongbal, first Manipur Rifles Gate, Imphal, was organised as part of its moral, social and historical responsibilities to express collective ownership of the violence meted out to women in the ongoing ethnic conflict in the state.
Leaders of different religious communities recalled moral prescriptions towards women from their respective scriptures, reflected collectively upon why and how such sinful acts of violence against women happened in the society when confronted with ethnic conflicts in the state since 1992 till date and also shared their ideas on how interfaith collective can work together for preventing such crimes against women by collective efforts of building strong moral foundation through educational programs. The fasting prayer was attended by about 70 people, including 20 women representing 19 religious communities belonging to Hindu, Christian, Islam, Jain, Sanamahi and Tingkao Ragwang Chapriak, Buddhist, and different spiritual communities like Divine Life Society, BrahmaKumaris, and Mahatma Seva Ashram, etc.
Leaders who shared important ideas included Vidyapath, LSBT, Ekanath Das, ISKCON, Mitreswor, MSA, Jonny Shimray, AMCO, R.K. Radhamohon, DLS/ISMAGAVA, Babloo L, HRA and Y Pancham, DLS.
"Interfaith Forum believes that the warlike situation which has killed over hundred lives and injured many, displaced thousands into relief camps, all suffering and affected millions across county and beyond is brought to us by the history of the state", said Deben Bachadpatimayum, Convenor, the Interfaith Forum for Peace and Harmony, Manipur.
Furthermore, Bachadpatimayum added, "All of us live in the state or closely connected to it are part of the warlike situation in different ways by sacrificing one’s life as patriots and martyrs, doing the worst crimes to destroy humanity in their ignorance to the noblest act of saving lives, respective human dignity and chastity of women as conscious human being or remaining , indifferent to or drawing direct benefits of out of the human tragedy or making efforts to end this war crimes by individual and collective actions or the power, behind/in the front, that is allowing the ethnic war continue, directly and indirectly for their own vested interests, and therefore we all should be part of healing, conciliation and peacemaking processes."
"To begin healing and peacemaking process is to stop the war immediately. The religious collective urge the Union government representing the highest power of the Sovereign and Republic State to use all the forces under its command to immediately stop the ethnic war in Manipur by recalling its Constitutional duty of saving and protecting lives of its citizens, and play the noble role of Peacekeepers between waring communities," he added.
The Forum submitted memorandum to the Governor and President of India to work towards stopping the ethnic unrest in Manipur.
The state has seen violence since May following the High Court's order which asked the state government to consider providing ST (Scheduled Tribe) status to the Meitis, the majority community located prominently in the Imphal valley and neighbouring areas.
With the increasing population, they demanded more land. Only STs can buy land in the hilly areas, dominated by Naga and Kuki-Zo communities. In order to buy lands in the hilly areas, they sought the ST status.
Opposed to this, other communities including Kuki and Naga launched violent protests against the High Court's order.