Memorandum submitted to Manipur State Human Rights Commission

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National Fact Finding Team Met Victims of Anti-Christian Discrimination at Chingmeirong Rongmei Village, Manipur

Unconstitutional Elements Found in Customary Law

Christian Council Appeals to the Village Council to Repeal the Unconstitutional Section of Customary Law

A National Fact Finding team from New Delhi met the victims of anti Christian discrimination at Chingmeirong Rongmei Village, Imphal on January 15, 2009, and examined the customary laws of the village council. The fact finding team found some of customary laws are unconstitutional and are used to restrict the rights of Christians to practice their faith.

The unconstitutional section of the Chringmeirong Rongmei Village council, pasted on the notice board on the village gate in Manipuri is translated as: “No Christian activities and propagation within Chingmeirong Kabui (Rongmei) village Ward No. 173, any living person violating this order will be punished under the rules and regulation of the village council – By Order Village Council/Village Chief, Chingmeirong.”

Mr. Madhu Chandra, spokesperson of the North East Support Centre & Helpline and Regional Secretary of the All India Christian Council (aicc), said, “The unconstitutional order of Chingmeirong Rongmei Village Council violates the fundamental rights provided in Indian Constitution and United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Fundamental Rights.”

The aicc appealed to the Chingmeirong Rongmei Village Council in a separate letter dated January 27, 2009, to revoke the unconstitutional section of customary law of the village council. The law prohibits any member of the village to bring and adopt any religion other than the indigenous religion of the Rongmei tribe. Fines and penalties are Rs 5000, a large pig, a large jar of rice bear, and expulsion of the person(s) from the village. Failing to revoke the unconstitutional section of resolution of Chringmerong Rongmei Village Council, the aicc reserves its rights to seek the constitutional validity of the resolution in courts of law.

Under this law, three families from Chingmeirong Rongmei village were penalised. Kaphun Kamei, around 50 years old, along with his wife and children were the latest victims. Their house cum church building was dismantled by villagers on December 14, 2008, after imposing the fines prescribed by the village council.

Past incidents of the diktat ordered by the village council against Christians include the following as reported by the Sangai Express on September 13, 2007. Kahaolung Malungmei was fined a pig and rice beer jar and later banished from the village for becoming a Christian on October 12, 1995. On July 16, 1997, Kumari Kalingjon was fined Rs 5000. Kaphun Malangmei was fined Rs 5000 and chased out of the village after his house was burned on July 10, 2006.

Mr. Chandra, in a memorandum dated December 17, 2008, appealed to the Manipur State Human Rights Commission to look into the unconstitutional rules and regulations of Chingmeirong Rongmei Village Council and act accordingly.

The Fact Finding Team was led by Delhi-based human rights activist Mr. Madhu Chandra along with Manipur state branch official Rev. Nipamcha – aicc state chapter president, Rev. N. Debendra Singh, Kh. Chaoba – aicc state chapter secretary and Aheibam Chandramani – aicc state chapter joint secretary.

The All India Christian Council (www.aiccindia.org), birthed in 1998, exists to protect and serve the Christian community, minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of thousands of Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders.

The All India Christian Counc, formed in 1998, exists to protect and serve the Christian community, minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of thousands of Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders.

The unconstitutional section of the Chringmeirong Rongmei Village council, pasted on the notice board on the village gate in Manipuri is translated as: “No Christian activities and propagation within Chingmeirong Kabui (Rongmei) village Ward No. 173, any living person violating this order will be punished under the rules and regulation of the village council – By Order Village Council/Village Chief, Chingmeirong.”

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