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Former UK Prime Minister raises religious aspect of Manipur unrest in House of Lords

During a session in the House of Lords, British Foreign Secretary and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently emphasised the religious aspect of the ongoing strife in Manipur.

In response to a question from Lord Indrajit Singh regarding the state of freedom of religion or belief in India and the reported violations in Manipur, Cameron acknowledged the complexity of the situation.

The former Prime Minister highlighted various instances of religious intolerance and violence in India, noting that while some conflicts may stem from communal, tribal, or ethnic differences, many disputes often have a clear religious dimension.

In response to Singh’s query about the importance of upholding freedom of belief within the Commonwealth, Cameron acknowledged the significance of addressing the religious aspects of the ongoing strife.

He emphasised that while some conflicts may be communal, tribal, or ethnic in nature, many involve a distinct religious dimension. Cameron also mentioned instances where such issues were raised with the Indian government.

Cameron referred to a report by David Campanale, dated June 2023, which highlights the religious aspect of the unrest in Manipur.

The report underscores the destruction of churches among both valley dwellers and hill tribes, suggesting a deeper religious dimension to the conflict.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon echoed Cameron’s sentiments, citing instances of religious intolerance and persecution in India. He emphasised the need for prioritising freedom of belief within the Commonwealth charter.

MP Fiona, Rishi Sunak’s special envoy for freedom of religion or belief, previously raised the issue of Manipur violence in the House of Commons during sessions in July and September of the previous year.

Violence erupted in Manipur following clashes sparked by a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ in Churachandpur district on May 3. The march protested against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status. An armed mob attacked the Meitei people during the march, leading to retaliatory violence across the state.

The conflict resulted in over 160 deaths and numerous injuries. Meiteis, predominantly Hindu, form the majority ethnic group in Manipur’s Imphal Valley, with a significant presence across the northeastern states.

 

Image source: ABP News

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