Manipur Violence Closes BFTW Schools/Offices

The Manipur region of India has been experiencing civil unrest due to political events taking place.  In fact, there have been some violent protests that occurred near our Sielmat Christian Hospital and Sielmat Christian Schools.  The Hospital  sustained damage from bullets and tear gas canisters, which were indiscriminately fired by police.  The photo below shows an ambulance, belonging to the Hospital, that was damaged by bullets. As a result, our India offices and these facilities have temporarily closed and regular communications have been suspended for the safety of all students and staff members.

An ambulance at Sielmat Christian Hospital was hit by random gunfire.

An ambulance at Sielmat Christian Hospital was hit by random gunfire.

PLEASE NOTE THAT as of September 20, ALL sponsored students are safe and communications with them will resume as soon as possible.

The Churachandpur violence that killed eight people was a reaction to three Bills passed unanimously by the Manipur Assembly on August 31. The Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015, and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015, were brought in as substitutes to introducing the Inner Line Permit, or ILP. (Explained below)

The day before the special House session, tribal organizations across the state came together for the first time in years to call a strike across the five Hill districts. On August 31, highways, schools and businesses were closed and, around 6 pm, within hours of the Bills being passed, protesters clashed with police on the streets of Churachandpur town. Churachandpur is the headquarters of the tribal Churachandpur district, which is dominated by the Kuki tribe, but is also home to Paiteis, Zomis and Hmars.

According to tribal bodies, the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms amendment has been brought by the “communal Manipur government” to acquire tribal land in the Hill districts. Land in the Hill districts is protected by Article 371C of the Constitution, under which the land and its resources are controlled by its tribal inhabitants. No non-tribal can buy land in Manipur’s tribal areas.

The tribals have traditionally felt marginalized by the dominant Meiteis, who control the fertile valley and its businesses, dominate the administration, and occupy 40 seats in the Assembly — double the number of Hills representatives.

The Hill districts are underdeveloped and poor, and tribals have for decades complained that most development funds are hogged by the valley. The Hills have only sporadic, if any, electricity supply, few roads, enterprises, and schools, and follow traditional cultivation practices.

Hills vs the Valley

The tribals’ suspicion that the Manipur government, and the Meiteis, are attempting to grab the one thing that they have — their land — has erupted into the recent violence.  Things are now beginning to calm down and, while schools are still closed,

Please join us in praying for a quick resolution to the disputes, that violence will cease and that Hospital and Schools will return to normal operations quickly.   Thank you!

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