The Minority Rights & Political Concerns Department (MRPC) of the Karnataka Central Diocese and the National Issues & Ecumenical Relations Committee (NIER) of St.Mark's Cathedral organized a talk by Mr Anto Akkara, a well-known journalist in the Resource Centre of St.Mark's Cathedral on 17 June 2023.
The meeting commenced with prayer by Rev. Sam Jabadurai, Asst. Pastor of St. Mark's Cathedral. Mr. M. Jebakumar, Convenor of NIER, welcomed the speaker, dignitaries, and the audience.
Rev. Christopher Samuel, Asst. Secretary, KCD and Chairman, Socio & Economic Concerns Committee set the tone for the event with a comprehensive overview of the social fabric of the country at present. He said that we need to view the recent happenings in Manipur in that context.
Ms. Asha Elisha, a member of NIER introduced the speaker, the journalist-author Anto Akkara. Akkara has reported extensively from hotspots in South Asia on human rights, religious issues, and social problems. His investigative reports have been carried in national and international newspapers like the Times of India and the Washington Post. He has also authored investigative books and has won awards.
Akkara gave an excellent slide-show presentation enlivened by anecdotes of the ground realities in Manipur to which he was an eyewitness. Starting with a relief map of Manipur showing clearly the hills and the central plain, populated by the Kukis and Meities respectively, his slide-show titled "Quo Vadis Manipur" based on the famous question," Quo Vadis Domine" attributed to St.Peter on his meeting Jesus who was on his way to Jerusalem to take Peter's place on the cross, he traced the origin of the strife leading to the present continuing violence. The violence is less of a fight between Kukis and Meities and more of ethnic cleansing of Christians. This claim is borne out of the fact that apart from the losses suffered by the Kukis, 247 churches of Meities were burnt down in a span of 36 hours. This clearly indicates that it has the blessings of the BJP government both at the state and the central levels.
The talk was followed by a lively Q&A session with very good participation from the floor. All questions were suitably addressed by Akkara, Rev Christopher Samuel and David Pichamuthu.
Rev Tabitha, Convenor of MRPC proposed the vote of thanks. Rev. Dr.Vincent Vinod Kumar, Diocesan Secretary and Presbyter-in-Charge, St.Mark's Cathedral said the closing prayer and pronounced the benediction.
This was followed by a silent candlelight procession led by Rev.Dr.Vincent Vinodkumar, Rev Christopher Samuel, and Rev Tabitha from the Cathedral to the Gandhi statue. Almost all of the estimated 120 participants who attended the talk also took part in the march. A prayer for peace in Manipur was said by Rev Christopher Samuel. The placard which was held up to express our solidarity with the suffering populace of Manipur and the candlelight gathering attracted the attention of the drivers and passersby.
The event concluded with the return march back to the Cathedral. We express our sincere gratitude to the DCP(Central) Shri Sreenivasa Gowda IPS who had arranged for a police escort with whose help we could cross and recross the busy MG Road at the time of peak Saturday traffic.