Ritika* was heavily pregnant the night that her home in Manipur was destroyed. Night was falling, but the streets pounded with loud blasts and shouts of protest. Ritika and her mother-in-law fled as fast as they could.
“We were not prepared for such attacks,” Ritika, later in a relief camp, shares with Open Doors local partner Anjali*. “We lived at Khangol and had to escape towards Kangpokpi. I saw my house burn in front of my eyes and it was a terrible scene.”
The flames that engulfed Ritika’s home is part of the ethno-religious violence that began on 3 May.
"I saw my house burn in front of my eyes and it was a terrible scene.”
Ritika is part of the majority-Christian Kuki tribe, whose community suffered most of the destruction from the Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun extremist groups. However, Christian converts from the majority-Hindu Meitei community have also faced violence from the said radicals, and have been forced to reconvert to their Sanamahist/folk-Hindu faith.
Ritika gives birth on the run
“I could only think of my baby, so I escaped,” shares Ritika. “On the way, I had pains, and the women who were with me helped me deliver my baby. The men prepared a bamboo bed on the mountain, and they were guarding us. After delivery, they carried me and my baby on the same bamboo cot because we could not stop moving. I can never forget this day. I never imagined it. But thanks be to God for the gift of life that He brought into this world even in such a terrible situation.”
Ritika’s mother-in-law adds, “I forgive our persecutors. Because of them, we can see God’s hand in our life.”
“I want him (Rita's child) to live and see how God can do great things in his future.”
Ritika has named her baby boy after the mountain where he was born, in their local language. Though still in a perilous situation – sharing food, shelter, and few resources in the camp for internally displaced people, she is optimistic for her precious baby.
“I pray for my child because he came in the world at this time, but I want him to live and see how God can do great things in his future,” she shares. “I don't blame any tribe or community. God has protected my baby and my life.”
Your prayers and support are making a difference
The overt violence in Manipur seems to be over – at least for now – but tens of thousands of people remain displaced and devastated. Recently, the European Union called on India and Prime Minister Modi to protect minorities – including Christians – specifically in Manipur, but India’s foreign minister condemned the EU’s action.
On the ground, Open Doors partners have prayed with and distributed urgent aid to Christians since the beginning of the conflict – and it’s powerful to see your gifts and prayers at work. Local partners were able to immediately deliver emergency aid and walk alongside Indian believers traumatised by the conflict.
As of the third week of June, Open Doors partners have distributed 850 packs of grocery relief aid (sacks of rice, dal, pulses, potato, onion, soybean, cooking oil, toiletries, sanitary products, salt, tea, candles and buckets), as well as 100 sets of utensils (cooking pots, bowls, plates, drinking glasses and spoons) to affected Kuki and Meitei believers. Open Doors partners will also be there to help with the long process of rebuilding and restoring communities.
"It is truly God who is doing this through you. Even if you are not here, we know that your prayers and your support are with the people"
“We are really thankful for the people who have been such a big support,” Anjali says. “And as I’m speaking on behalf of the people from Manipur, I have seen how happy they were, how grateful they were, and how thankful they were. And yes, it is truly God who is doing this through you. Even if you are not here, we know that your prayers and your support are with the people, which means a lot. It is not just physical or material support, it is a strength. It is a support to their faith.”
*Name changed for security reasons
- For Ritika, her baby and her mother-in-law, that God will continue to strengthen and protect them
- For God’s protection and provision for Open Doors partners as they serve believers
- That God’s all-transcending, lasting peace and healing would be poured out on Manipur.
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