Manipur is currently fighting a civil war and although violence is happening at all quarters, the ultimate loser in this is Hindu dharma and the ultimate winner is Christianity. This is how. First, one should pay attention to the name – Manipur. It is called so because it really does look like a maṇī – a gem – geographically from above. From all four sides (100%) it is surrounded by mountains and at the centre is a low-lying river valley. The valley is inhabited overwhelmingly by the Meitei Hindus who are Gaudiya Vaishnavas. The hills on the other hand are inhabited by tribes which are almost 100% Christian. so Hindus are under siege, literally and geographically, in Manipur. North and north-West mostly by Naga Christians and south, south-west, and east by mostly Kuki Christians (Kuki is the blanket term for various Mizo tribes – all Christians.)
The lands of the hill tribes are protected as tribal lands by law which prohibits others from settling there. As most inhabitants of these hills are Christians these lands are virtually Christian protectorates where Hindus have very little currency. The laws in Hindu dominated valley are different as Meitei Hindus are not classed under ST. So on their lands anyone can come and settle and particularly the hill Christians can come and settle there any time. This has resulted in a very unbalanced situation harming Hindus.
The valley, which is predominantly Meitei Hindu is not protected from the they are reserved for Christianity, and the valley which is Hindu is termed as non-ST or General Hindus as it is Vaishnava Hindu community and thus is out of the land protection law. The demographic situation of Manipur is very volatile with Hindus losing every decade. Currently while 49% are Hindu and Sanmahi (tribal pagan religion friendly with Hindu dharma), 51% are Christian and Muslim (42% Christian and the rest Muslim).
The Muslims of Manipur are called Meitei Pangals (Pangal simply means Muslim in Meitei language). Most of them descend from Mughal soldiers and Meitei women and they have been joined by infiltrators from Assam’s southern Muslim majority districts and Bangladesh. This is the demographic situation of Manipur, where around 15% of land in the valley is where 49% of Hindus (including Sanmahis) and 9% of Muslims live and around 80-85% of hills around are where 42% of Christians live.
But while Hindus can’t settle in Christian lands, the opposite is possible. It also doesn’t happen wherever it is possible because Christians violently throw other tribes out. One Hindu tribe which settled in Mizoram was thrown out and was accepted by Hindu Tripura. So gradually Christians from the hills and the Pangal Muslims are pushing Meitei Hindus out of their homes and their lands. The percentage of Hindus in Manipur is dropping with every passing year and decade. And the percentage of Christians and Muslims is increasing. As per the census data this is how Hindu dharma has been decimated in most parts of Manipur and is on its way to extinction in valley too if Hindus of the mainland don’t wake up to help them. Here is the break down:
Hindus were 96% in 1901, 95% in 1911, 94% in 1921, 92% in 1931, 89% in 1941, 81% in 1951, 74% in 1961, 67% in 1971, 63% in 1981, 58% in 1991, 54% in 2001, 52% in 2011, 49% in 2021. As you can see, the decline has been sharp after independence and in 2020 Hindus dipped below 50%. If the trend continues and Meiteis start converting en masse, Manipur will be 100% Christian very soon. And if Hindus here don’t come to their help it will happen.
The violence is of course not one way and Meiteis also retaliate violently but that is not the point. To equate the Kuki Christian violence with Metei Hindu violence is to equate the actions of Hindus and Muslims in mainland when riots happen. Of course Hindus retaliate but do they ever start the riots? And is it okay to blame the victims and the perpetrators equally? Is it okay to blame otherwise peaceful #Myanmar Buddhists and the violent Rohingyas equally? Is it okay to blame Jews and Nazis? Yes Meiteis also retaliate but when Kuki or Naga Christians perpetrate violence against Meitei Hindus, their prism is always Christian and they always seek to engage in land Jihad for the Church. On the other hand Hindus see it through local and tribal lens.
So after every such violence and riot, the Church has more property, more occupied lands, more ‘pure Christian lands’ and more Christians. And after every such violence, Hindus have less lands, less property, less number of Hindus. Can we still say it is not a Hindu-Christian fight? Some say it is just tribal violence and there are some local reasons. Of course there are tribal rivalry and local triggers. But that is not the complete story. The recent clashes started as the government started demolishing illegal churches and poppy plantations.
It is mostly Kuki Christians who grow poppy as their lands can’t be settled by anyone else. They are the ones who engage in illegal drug trade. To retaliate against the government’s actions they are punishing common Meitei Hindus. Media will portray it as tribal warfare and some Hindus might also believe so but Christians see it as a Holy War, a War for Jesus Christ, and that is why they keep cleansing land after land of non-Christians.
And that is the lesson we need to learn. Hindus see these clashes as local and tribal. Christians and Muslims see it as Holy War and Jihad. And that’s why impact of Hindu gains and violence will never be permanent, but impact of Christian violence will be permanent. That is why Hindus always lose civilizationally and Christians and Muslims always win Civilizationally. Gradually Hindu dharma is losing out. It has held out so far because Meiteis are also fierce, but if rest of Hindus continue in their apathy, then sooner or later they will break. Kukis are not just in India but many of their sister tribes are in Myanmar and that’s where they get training from Pakistan and China. That angle is also always there in the north-east. This government has started paying attention but it is Hindus in common who need to be interested in the north-east. It is when we start seeing these clashes through Hindu-Christian lens and see it as one string in the long civilizational war, then we will start winning.
By Pankaj Saxena