A senior bishop has said the Christian clergy invited to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Christmas gathering should have raised the sectarian violence in Manipur, cautioning that it was now or never for the community if it wanted its voice heard.
“When the meeting was held in Delhi they could have said, ‘It is a beautiful gathering, our PM is with us, it’s a wonderful experience, but our heart is burning’,” Dr Abraham Mar Poulose Episcopa of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church told a gathering in Kerala.
A video clip of the address has been aired on Malayalam channels and has been circulating on social media since Thursday morning, but it’s not clear where the event was held.
“We forget to bravely point fingers at atrocities. When allegations and counter-allegations were heard in Kerala over the (Prime Minister’s) feast in Delhi, what needs to be understood is that we must be able to say what needs to be said before those who matter,” the bishop said.
“The community is now asking why they (the bishops invited to Modi’s event) couldn’t speak up. When our tongues are tied even when an entire community is getting wiped out in Manipur, we are conveniently compromising and staying clear of the issue itself.”
He urged the Christian community to raise its voice before it’s too late.
“It’s high time the Christian community stood up as a corrective force in India. If we don’t raise our voice now, we may never be able to raise our voice in the future. Let such a day not come,” he cautioned.
On Wednesday, Kerala’s minister of culture and youth affairs, Saji Cherian, had landed the Left government in a spot with some controversial remarks about the bishops invited by the Prime Minister returning after having wine and cake.
“Some bishops had goosebumps since BJP leaders had invited them. So some of them who had excess goosebumps headed to Delhi,” Cherian had told a CPM event.
“They had pieces of cake and wine and sang praises, (but) they forgot about
Manipur. Manipur was not at all a topic of discussion for them.”
While Cherian later retracted his “wine, cake and goosebumps” remarks, he said he stood by his criticism of the Manipur issue being ignored.
His retraction came after the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) president, Major Archbishop Cardinal Baselios Cleemis of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, declared that the organisation would not cooperate with the state government until Cherian withdrew his comments.
In a sign that the KCBC had accepted the retraction, Cardinal Cleemis attended the annual Christmas gathering hosted by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on
Wednesday in Thiruvananthapuram