An impromptu coffin protest rally was carried out at Litan section of the Imphal-Ukhrul road after residents of Leingangching village in Manipur’s Ukhrul district denied burial of a woman on August 9.
Rita Haorei, who died on the intervening night of August 7 and 8, was denied burial at her ancestral home by her own native villagers “because she had embraced Catholic faith”.
Rita, wife of Yangmi Haorei, was a Roman Catholic by religion. However, her family was allegedly excommunicated and banished, along with four other families, a few years ago for embracing the Catholic faith in the village dominated by Baptist denomination.
It is believed that the authorities and leaders there have enforced ‘one village one denomination’ rule in the village, which is common in some places in the northeast, especially Manipur and Nagaland where majority of the Christians in almost every village or town are Baptist.
After they were banished from the village, Rita and her family members resided at Litan village.
However, after Rita passed away, her husband, Yangmi Haorei, decided to bury his wife at their ancestral home. But the villagers strongly objected to this and her dead body was denied burial in her native village by her own people. Reports say that this is the fourth case in which the funeral of a Catholic faithful has been denied in this very village.
It is reported that her husband has stood firm about keeping his wife’s body in the middle of the road unless she is allowed a burial in their native village.
Decrying religious intolerance and discrimination against minorities within the Christian community, family members and relatives of the deceased, led by some local priests and accompanied by scores of sympathizers, took to streets carrying the coffin to protest against the uncompassionate and inhuman attitude shown by their fellow Christian brothers.
The protesters demanded the rightful burial of Rita’s dead body at her native place. The protesters have stressed the need for the state government to intervene and ensure that the constitutional provision of freedom to practice any religion is honored by all sections of the society.
Family members also claimed that the villagers have dismantled their house, excluded them from receiving any welfare schemes, including MGNREGS, and even denied them their voting rights.
It is said that the matter has been submitted to the district administrations and a complaint has been filed at the Litan Police Station, but nothing has been done by the authorities yet.
Religious intolerance and discrimination within the Christian community has been on the rise in the northeast.
Just few days back, Atonoka Swu, a pastor and founder-president of the so-called United Christian Prayer Ministries in Kohima, Nagaland, wrote a letter to Fathers and Bishop of the Catholics in Nagaland to cut their relationship with the Vatican saying Catholics worship Lucifer.
Below is the letter received by a Nagaland Catholic priest, which he has posted on a Facebook forum. Swu claims that it is God who asked him in his dream to convey this to the Catholics in Nagaland.
Intolerance or discrimination on basis of religion, especially between Catholic and Baptist/Protestant, has been on the rise in the northeast, especially Manipur and Nagaland.
Regardless of which denomination or religion one belongs to, or which background s/he is from, the kind of inhuman, uncompassionate attitude and intolerant act such as denial of a burial needs to be condemned at the highest level.
It has been urged to initiate stringent action to send out a strong message to serve as a deterrent for future.