After Attack On Church, Unrest Casts Shadow On Christmas -
After Attack On Church, Unrest Casts Shadow On Christmas
Posted 19 Dec 2016 10:59 AM


GUWAHATI: The Sunday Mass prayer at the Manipur Baptist Convention Church - the oldest Baptist Church in Manipur's capital Imphal was marked by a thin attendance.

Only half of the regular Mass goers turned up amid rumours of unrest on social media following an attack on the church by a group of unknown people on Saturday.

"Attacking the church has hurt the sentiments of the Christians and Baptist in particular," said Reverend L Simon Raomai, the pastor at the church.

The attack on the church has been seen as one on the Naga community whose members have imposed an economic blockade since November, raising the prices of essential commodities, leading to widespread resentment among Imphal's dominant Meitei community.

The economic blockade was launched by Naga groups as a response to the government's decision to carve out seven new districts in the state. The Naga groups allege the new districts encroach on their ancestral land.

On Sunday, protesters in Imphal burnt down several vehicles that were carrying nearly a thousand people who were trying go back to their homes in the Naga-dominated hill districts for Christmas after forcing the passengers to get off. There were no reports of any casualties.

"For over one and half a month we have tolerated the economic blockade, now we are protesting, because we want to teach a lesson to (Naga groups) UNC and NSCN-IM," one protester told NDTV.

To cool down tensions, the government imposed a curfew and snapped internet services in parts of Imphal. But commentators say this will not help.

"I think curbing social media and internet will not order, because this will increase the frustration of the youth and they would come to the streets and may lead to more violence," said Meena Longjam, a National Award-winning filmmaker from Imphal.

Manipur has witnessed ethnic strife for over 40 years as successive governments in the state have failed to address roots of the divide. Observers fear that the assembly polls due early next year and the creation of seven new districts may only widen the gap.

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