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Friday, 9 January 2015

Terror in the Name of Christ in Northeast

A list of the terror outfits in the North East that have found support from missionary groups or perpetrate terror in the name of Christianity.
by kampanna

A few years ago, the terms “Saffron terror” and “Hindu terror” were constructed. The media relentlessly excoriated Hindus and Hindutva outfits as being terrorists. Rahul Gandhi told a diplomat that he was more worried about Hindu terrorism than Islamic terrorism even though it was clearly proven that a huge amount of terrorism had been directed towards Hindus and Hinduism, both within India and without, to the extent that their demographics are changing with the media stubbornly refusing to take a note of it.
While there have been vociferous denials by the ‘secular’ media that Islam and terrorism are in anyway related, and there has been only a grudging admission that some Muslims have indeed committed terrorist activities, there has never been a clear focus on the terrorism by adherents of Christianity.
Indeed, there is almost a clear all-encompassing silence about terrorism perpetrated in the name of Christianity or terrorist outfits that have found support from Christian groups. Whether it is due to the alleged closeness between Church groups and our mainstream media or it is due to other reasons is a point for people to ponder over.
Indeed, the most telling statement in the above link is the remark of the Archbishop of Delhi in a church event, which we reproduce verbatim here:
“Inaugurating the two-day event, Most Rev Anil Couto, Archbishop of Delhi, spoke of the indispensability of the media in our evangelizing mission, for carrying out the command of the Lord to proclaim the good news to the ends of the earth in season and out of season. He said the committed leaders in this apostolate are the members of the Society of St Paul, carrying on the charisma given to them by Blessed James Alberione.”
The event was attended by former election commissioner Navin Chawla and journalist Anna Vetticad.
This article will give a brief overview of the various terrorist organisations in the Northeast that profess a Christian ideology and are claiming to work for Christians or have received support from organised Christian groups. The article is not exhaustive in its list of support; it is beyond the scope of an article.
Some of the groups have reasons not related to Christianity but they support these nefarious activities. I have focussed only on those acts that seem to have acquired a religious motivation.
The article took two baseline criteria for determining organised Christian support to terrorist organisations. The first is that the organisation must have been deemed a terrorist organisation by the Government of India and banned for more than five years continuously.Knee-jerk bans under political pressure or events have not been considered here.
Further, it must have documented funding from organised Christian groups, and/or must have expressed a Christian ideology and/or must profess to be working for Christians as reason for its terrorism.
With those two baseline criteria, the article starts from those that are currently banned and goes back to those that have been banned in the past, since 1947.
To begin with outfits currently banned by the government, one that has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons – the National Democratic Front for Bodoland (NDFB) was originally formed as the Bodo Security Force (BSF) in 1986, its goal was to resist the influx of immigrants into what it terms as Bodoland and expel all those it deems not native to Bodoland.
Among those it has attacked in the past include ‘tea tribes’ (the Santhals, Mundas and Oraons, who arrived from Jharkhand and (today’s) West Bengal during the British times), Bengali Muslims (and Bangladeshi Muslims too), Koch Rajbanshis and other Bodos (particularly those belonging to the surrendered, Hindu dominated Bodo Liberation Tigers Front). The full list of atrocities by the various factions of the NDFB can be found here.
The South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) records the terrorist activities of all the South Asian terrorist organisations using information available in the public domain.
Even the Global Security website concedes that the NDFB is mostly Christian. NDFB, being strongly backed by Christian missionaries of the West, carried out large-scale religious conversion of the Bodos, to the extent that the rich culture of the Bodos was threatened.
The Hindu Bodos were isolated and some even forcefully converted under the influence of the missionaries-backed NDFB. Due to such activities, NDFB was able to attract significant funds from the west and pleased missionaries that they had M-16 guns with them. Even the ULFA who raised much more funds from Assam never had M-16 guns till very recent days.
The Bodoland struggle has also become polarised along religious lines, with the Hindu dominated, Bodo Liberation Tigers Force (BLTF) supporting the security forces against the Christian dominated NDFB[1].
Under influence of the Christian West, they have tried to de-Indianise their language by forcing people to adopt the Roman script for their language. On 19 August 2000, NDFB killed Bineshwar Brahma, the president of the Bodo Sahitya Academy, for using Devanagari script and refusing to adopt the Roman script for the Bodo language.
NDFB(S) cadre
Another prominent murder for the same reasons was the killing of Mohini Basumatary, the People’s Democratic Front MLA from Bijni in Bongaigaon district. The latest massacre on 23 December 2014 is also reported to have religious motives.
The tribal people were on the target of the NDFB(S) since the moment they started praising the RSS and tried to come into the Hindu fold. The Hindu nationalists were gaining hold on the North-East and a few days back the tribal children were seen praying under saffron flag. The NDFB(S) and other Christian outfits issued warning against them not to participate in such Hindu programmes[2].
Another terror outfit, the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), is a Tripuri nationalist organisation, which aims to liberate the state of Tripura from India.
Its claim is to represent all the native Tripuri tribes from ‘imperialism’ of Hindustan (in its constitution). It has carried out numerous attacks on non-Christian tribals, Hindu spiritual leaders, and Bengali Hindus.
The NLFT is accused of forcing Tripura’s indigenous tribes to become Christians and give up Hindu forms of worship in areas under their control.
In 1999, they issued a ban on the Hindu festivals of Durga Puja and Saraswati Puja. The NLFT manifesto says that they want to expand what they describe as the kingdom of God and Christ in Tripura.
The NLFT is accused of forcing Tripura’s indigenous tribes to become Christians and give up Hindu forms of worship in areas under their control and forcing indigenous tribes to give up their native forms of worship and convert to Christianity.
In 1999, the NLFT forbade the celebration of Saraswati Pooja and Durga Puja. The call to ban the Hindu festivals was repeated a year later, in 2000, too.
The government in Tripura says it has evidence that the state’s Baptist Church is involved in backing separatist rebels. Chief Minister Manik Sarkar of Tripura, who is from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)], said the state police had uncovered details of the alleged link after questioning a church leader. Nagmanlal Halam, secretary of the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura, was arrested with a large quantity of explosives. In August 1999, they kidnapped 4 RSS pracharaks, held them for ransom, and later, murdered them.
At least 20 Hindu tribals, including a senior priest of the Jirania Ashram, Santi Kali Maharaj, have been killed by NLFT rebels in the past two years for disobeying orders.
A tribal Hindu spiritual leader has been killed by separatist rebels in Tripura. Police say about ten guerrillas belonging to the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura, the NLFT, broke into a temple near the town of Jirania on Sunday night and shot dead Shanti Tripura, a popular Hindu preacher popularly known as Shanti Kali. The separatist group says it wants to convert all tribespeople in the state to Christianity.
They also butchered Hindu Bengali refugees in cold blood in the Bagber Refugee camp at Bagber in August 2001.
Then there is the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN). It was formed in 1980 opposing the Shillong accord with the Government of India. Due to internecine warfare, the NSCN has split into multiple factions. One such faction of the NSCN is led by Isak Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah. According to the SATP, the goal of the outfit is “The outfit aims to establish a ‘Greater Nagaland’ (‘Nagalim’ or the People’s Republic of Nagaland) based on Mao Tse Tung’s ideology. Its manifesto is based on the principle of Socialism for economic development and a spiritual outlook — ‘Nagaland for Christ’. The organisation has a long history of attacks against all non-Nagas (and a huge number of internal factional battles) in Nagaland too.
Some factions of the NSCN have declared a ceasefire with the government and have now been unbanned. Nevertheless, for a long time, the NSCN factions and their parent organisation, the NNC have been banned by the government, and have indulged in large scale terror. Indeed, none of the other groups come anywhere close to the kind of terror unleashed by the NNC and the NSCN groups.
The professed goal of wanting to create a Nagaland for Christ should be sufficient to establish the connection to the church. However, I adduce more evidence. The original NNC (Naga Nationalist Council) recognised two religions — Christianity and Naga religions. However, the NSCN (IM) faction dropped the Naga religion from the list of its recognised religions[3].
NSCN cadre
NSCN cadre
The very first mission maintained an adversarial relationship with the native Naga faith and when the Christians had increased in sufficient numbers, imposed a no observance of tribal customs and festivals[4]. Missionaries forbade consumption of indigenous wine (zam), which according to Vashum was a vital component of their native culture[5], thus imposing their own version of prohibition.
The NSCN-K official Wangdong Chaktey has ordered that no Rangsomhum could be constructed in any village of that area. Neither, the followers of Rangfra faith can take any religious and cultural activity anywhere. Shri Jamatia says further that when  Wangjam Chaktey and  Kamjam Hangphuk, the priest and secretary respectively of Rangfra Administrative Council (RAC) of Kothung village could not comply with orders of NSCN-K, they were summoned to their designated camp located in nearby jungle. There, the priest Wangjam Chaktey, 75, was tied in a post and tortured for four hours from 11 am to 3 pm on 11 January. Earlier, the same militant official of NSCN-K had issued similar threat letter on 30 October 2010 to stop all the religious activities of Rangfra religion.
Again on 1 February that year, Kamjam Hangphuk was kidnapped and retained in their designated camp for six days till 6 February. He was thoroughly beaten there and was released only when Rs 65,000 in cash was paid and a pig worth Rs 10,000 was given to him. This is with an intention of converting the followers of Rangfra religion into Christianityand integrating Changlang and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh into their proposed “Greater Nagaland”.
British reverend Michael Scott supplied lethal weapons packed in Red Cross boxes to NNC militants. This politically motivated Reverend was later expelled from the country because of his anti-India activities by then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. With the help of international Church organisations and foreign NGOs, NSCN (IM) has several support centres in the Netherlands, Thailand, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, South Korea, Australia, England, Philippines, Sweden, Belgium and the US.
NSCN (IM) cadre
NSCN (IM) cadre
NSCN factions get financial support from churches. An article written by JP Rajkhowa, a former Chief Secretary of Assam, appeared in The Sentinelon 12 May 2008 spoke of its links with the World Council of Churches. More link of churches with terror outfits can be found in “Baptist Agenda for Peace in Nagalim, India,” an exposition by George Conklin.
Tikhak Buddhists of Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday observed Buddha Purnima under the vigil of security forces. An armed group, said to belong to the NSCN-IM, has allegedly threatened them to convert to Christianity or face dire consequences. “The people in Wangnong and nearby villages have been passing sleepless nights. They are all Buddhists. An armed militant group belonging to the NSCN(IM) has ordered them to convert to Christianity,” said Ven Aggadhamma, the highest religious leader of the Buddhists in Changlang and Tirap districts.
The Mizo National Front (MNF) is not a terrorist organisation now. It is very much a political force. However, we have included it here, since it was a terrorist organisation for a long time, from the 1960s to early 1980s. The MNF, which evolved out of the problems associated with a famine, “aimed at establishing a sovereign Christian nation for the Mizos”.
An explosion ripped through a temple, on the premises of the 26th battalion of Assam Rifles here on Thursday (23 May 2013), when the opposition Mizo National Front organised `Milem Biak Duhloh Kawngzawh’ or `anti-idol worshipping rally.’ The MNF was also instrumental in the expulsion of the mostly Hindu-animist Bru (Reang) tribe. About 29,000 Bru tribals were expelled from Mizoram. No steps have been taken to rehabilitate them in the state of Mizoram.
The series of “Quit Mizoram” notices served by the MNF to non-Mizos since the 70s started including relaxations from May 1982 onwards. Those who went to church, and were Mongoloids were allowed to stay back in Mizoram.
There are several other terrorist groups of the NE that are (or have been) on more than nodding terms with the Christian organisations. We list some others in this section.
The Bhuvan Pahar, one of the most holy places in Barak valley of Assam has come under the threat of miscreants for last two months… Gun totting members of a newly formed militant organization, namely, Manmasi National Christian Army (MNCA), comprising about fifteen rebels, has been forcing the Hindu residents of Bhuvan Pahar, under the threat of gun to convert to Christianity.
This came to the notice of Sonai police station, which along with the 5th Assam Rifles, conducted a search operation, which led to the arrest of 13 miscreants, including their commander-in-chief. Two SBBL guns and a country made pistol along with sufficient quantity of ammunition were seized from their possession. All the miscreants were handed over to Sonai police for further investigation. These groups of miscreants dressed in black with a red cross on their back along with arms enter from Tipaimukh area through Barak River by boat and mount over Bhuvan Pahar.
They threaten and ask the Hindu people of Tezpur village, including the priest of the Hindu temple to convert into Christianity. The problem began when Hmar miscreants stated themselves to be the members of Manmasi National Christian Army and had started putting pressure on the Hindu residents of Bhuvan Pahar to become Christian. The local residents informed that Manmasi National Christian Army cadres had painted Cross symbol on the wall of the temples with their blood.
The Hmar People’s Convention – Democracy (HPC-D) which purports to protect the rights of the Hmar Christians and is fighting the Hindu Dimasas, has inflicted numerous assaults on the Dimasas, including torching their homes, and executing them in cold blood. The HPC-D has also been collecting money from US based groups for protecting Hmar Christians. A bomb explosion in the ISKCON Krishna temple in Imphal, which killed 5, and injured over 50 others was attributed to Christian Kuki terror outfits.
HPC-D cadre standing facing the Tuiruong River
HPC-D cadre standing facing the Tuiruong River
More to the point, the North East of India is totally ignored by all outside it. Reams of paper and litres of ink have been expended on the terrorists professing to work in the name of Islam.
The heartbreaking experience of the Kashmiri Pandits, who were expelled from their homeland has received far more attention than the equally tragic expulsion of the Reangs from Mizoram, although the numbers of affected Reangs was not insubstantial. This article is intended to raise awareness on the various terror groups of the north east, their activities and what those portend in future.
[1] Lt. Col. Vivek Chadha, “Low Intensity Conflicts in India”, Sage Publications India, 2005, pp. 268.
[2] ibid
[3] Kunal Ghosh, “Separatism in NE India: Role of Religion, Language & Script”, Suruchi Prakashan, 2008, pp. 95-97.
[4] Sajal Nag, “Contesting Marginality, Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Sub-Nationalism in North East India”, Manohar Publishers, 2002, pp. 56.
[5] R. Vashum, “Some Reflections on Naga Society: An anthropological perspective”, Delhi Students Union Publications, 1996.
Source: Swarajyamag

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