International Ministries

Christians join hands to help the victims of tribal conflict in Northeast India

January 25, 2011 Journal

Christians join hands to help the victims of tribal conflict in Northeast India

Alice Hau and Benjamin Chan

January 26, 2011

A tribal conflict broke out early this year in East Garo Hill District of the Meghalaya State of northeast India (see previous posting of “Garo and Rabha conflict leads to the displacement of 10,000 people”: Later reports indicate that the militants from the Rabha Security Force and the Rabha Viper Army carried out attacks on several villages along the border, and four Rabha Security Force militants from Balmuri village at Bajengdoba were arrested.

The Council of Baptist Churches in North East India (CBCNEI) immediately sent a delegation to assess the situation and offer relief and reconciliation assistance. A Joint Peace Mission Team was then formed comprising Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Catholics, to launch cooperative relief and peace effort. The American Baptist World Relief Office approved an emergency grant of $3,000 to help the need.

The Joint Peace Mission Team has surveyed the affected area and reported that around round 50,000 people lost their homes and properties . The victims have taken shelters in more than 35 relief camps such as schools, churches in the bordering areas of both East Garo Hills and Goalpara District. There is concern of the spreading of diseases while children are most vulnerable.

CBCNEI has focused on the relief for 3000 displaced families of 15,000 affected people in 8 relief camps near Goalpara District of Assam. A total of US$38,000 is needed to provide food, medicine and other basic needs. As of January 17, 3000 blankets, 2000 Tarpaulin sheets for tents, 50 Qnts of flattened rice, and 1000 packs of baby food have been provided to the camps. More food and utensils, and socks and clothing for children are needed.

Rev. Rettair Momin, General Secretary of the Garo Baptist Convention thanks the support of the American Baptists and Christians around the world, and said that the situation is improving. Rev. Jolly Rimai, CBCNEI Mission Secretary shared that in the relief camps where Christians are staying, “I was able to share from the Word of God on love and forgiveness. Based on the Scripture, we told them that in order to bring peace we need forgiveness, and our forgiveness should be based on the forgiveness we have received from the Lord Himself. As we lead them in prayer, many of them were in tears. Pray for us so that we will be able to share love and forgiveness among them.”

Peace committees have been formed and meetings held between the communities at various levels. However, some local Christian leaders have expressed their concern that since “differences between the two groups are rooted deep, peace building in such situation is risky and definitely will take time.”

The Joint Peace Mission Team is still working hard to meet the immediate needs of the victims. It will take a bigger effort, including the assistance from the Indian Government, to rebuild the destroyed houses and communities.