The Archdiocese of Bangalore has provided refuge and support to a group of school, college students and working youth who were displaced due to escalating ethnic tensions and violence in the Manipur valley and travelled all the way to Bangalore. Led by Fr. James Beipei SJ, a Manipuri Priest in Bangalore, these children and youth sought safety and found solace in the Archdiocese.
Upon hearing their plea for assistance, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangalore, Most Rev. Dr. Peter Machado, extended all-round help to the displaced students. He assured them that they could continue their education in the Diocesan and Religious educational institutions in the Arcdiocese of Bangalore free of cost as also hostel facilities, emphasizing that Bangalore is an excellent place for education. Archbishop Machado expressed solidarity with the affected and displaced people of Manipur and conveyed the readiness of the entire Archdiocese to care of these displaced individuals.
Fr. James, the Jesuit priest from Manipur, explained the challenges faced by Christians and others in Manipur amidst the resurgent ethnic and communal tensions in the state. He highlighted the current social situation in the Christian-populated districts of Manipur and shared his reasons for bringing the students to Bangalore.
As places of worship, institutions and houses are vulnerable to attacks, Fr. James found it necessary to relocate them to Bangalore where they would be safer and where they had some of their relatives and friends. He expressed gratitude to Archbishop Machado for welcoming the students and providing them shelter, education and assistance.
Luni, a young lady from Manipur who now works in Bangalore, described the severity of the recent turmoil in Manipur, stating that it surpasses any civil conflict she had previously witnessed. She expressed relief and a sense of safety since arriving in Bangalore, where people have welcomed them.
Kennedy, one of the displaced students, shared his own experience of racial and communal tensions and violence in Manipur. He mentioned the intense gunfire during the Governor's visit and the fear his parents still face in Manipur. Kennedy expressed his gratitude to Archbishop Machado for providing refuge, free education and support, emphasizing the Archbishop's role as a father figure to them. He also mentioned the Archbishop's assistance in helping them secure jobs.
During the discussion, Rev. Fr. Edward Thomas, SDB, who oversees Dream India Network in Bangalore, offered his assistance as and when needed. The Director of Bangalore Multipurpose Social Service Society (BMSSS), Rev. Fr. Lourdu Xavier Santhosh, and Rev. Sr. Rosali, SSAM, committed to addressing the needs of these youngsters in terms of placement, education, and secure housing.
Overall, the Archdiocese of Bangalore has taken proactive steps to support and provide a safe haven for the displaced youth from Manipur, offering them education, shelter, and assistance in finding employment. The Archbishop and various clergy members have shown solidarity with the persecuted Christians and have committed to meeting the needs of these individuals during their difficult circumstances.