In Mizoram, fringe sect burns Hindu idols, tricolour in bid to fray tempers

Has fanaticism among a sect of Christians raised its ugly head in the otherwise peaceful state of Mizoram? The suspected involvement of seven persons in an incident of dishonoring the national flag and a Hindu idol has brought the question to the forefront.

Members of a newly emerging sect of Christianity in Mizoram recently burned a Hindu idol and set the tricolour ablaze. This incident comes to light at a time when the rise of Hindu nationalism has caused a number of incidents of communal violence across India.

Though the incident took place on 21 September at Lunglei district in Mizoram, the state police had covered it up to prevent tempers from flaring up. It was highlighted in the local media only this week after a video of the act surfaced on social media.

“We took care to keep it secret because we wanted to prevent any flare-up. The incident also has the potential to present the peace-loving Mizo people in a wrong manner,” said Kime, the Superintendent of Police of Lunglei district.

 In Mizoram, fringe sect burns Hindu idols, tricolour in bid to fray tempers

File photo of Mizoram police. Reuters

The video that appeared on social media showed a man wearing a white robe amidst a group of people shouting slogans against Hinduism and India. The group comprised of young boys, most of them teenagers wearing traditional Mizo attire. One of the boys in the group held a large white cross in his hands.

Significantly the sect of Christianity which this group of people belongs to wants independence from India.

The video showed the man wearing the white robe shouting, “We have long been under the Hindus. We have long been under India. Now, we want to declare ourselves independent.” He also appealed to the people to join him.

The video showed him setting fire to an idol after a boy in the group poured petrol on it. A boy in the group also set ablaze the tricolor.

Seven persons were suspected to be involved the incident. Police sources said that the name of the man in the white robe is Lalrinawma, who identifies himself as a Christian preacher.

“The remaining six persons are young boys aged between 9 to 23,” said Kime.

“This new sect has emerged only a couple of months ago. The followers and the preachers of this new sect travel around and spread hatred for Hinduism and India,” he said.

A police source told Firstpost that the incident of burning of the Indian flag and a Hindu idol in Lunglei town was not the first of its kind in Mizoram.

“The same group of people committed the same crime in another village a few days ago,” the source said.

Significantly, the group did not attempt to hide their activities from the police. In fact, they admitted to their earlier crime too.

“They are fanatics who are in the illusion that they are devoted to the cause of God,” Kime said.

Interestingly, the self styled preacher of Christianity also attempted to bury himself alive a few months back, in the belief that he would resurrect after three days as Jesus did as stated in The Bible.

“He asked the villagers to bury him. But none co-operated with him in fear that they would be prosecuted if the person died,” he added.

Presently there is no name attributed to the sect and its followers also are reportedly very small in number. But it is seen as a cause of concern by the authorities and the society alike.

“Hindus are a minority in Mizoram. Any attempt to hurt their sentiments will damage the social fabric of the state,” Kime said.

Significantly, Mizoram is one of the most peaceful states in India, where there are no ongoing separatist activities. The new sect is seen as a threat to peace, even by the Christians, who form 87% of the population.

“Most of the Mizos are Christians by religion and are Mongolians by race. But we are Indians and Mizoram also belongs to India. We will never accept disrespect to our nation or any other religion of India and we condemn such an act,” said Chuanteya, the president of Young Mizo Association, an influential civil society group in the state.

The number of followers of this new sect is not known yet, but the Church leaders have decided to take care that the number does not increase.

For instance, Zuia is the leader of the Presbyterian Church that has expressed grave concern at the rise of this sect. Zuia said to Firstpost, “We do not issue circulars, but we have started telling church-goers to abstain from this group.”

Even the police does not seem to have much information regarding the numbers of the followers of the sect.

“Whatever be there number, it is our responsibility to ensure that the religious sentiments of the Hindus, and the honour and integrity of our nation is not hurt,” said Kime.

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Updated Date: Sep 30, 2017 10:01:16 IST