Saturday, April 20, 2024

Manipur government says no holiday on Easter

A Christian woman prays at a church in Manipur. Photo: Sahid Faris/Maktoob

The Manipur government has declared the Easter holiday as a working day, causing an outrage in the region.

“The Governor of Manipur is pleased to declare 30th (Saturday) and 31st (Sunday) March, 2024 as working days for all Government Offices, including Public Sector Undertakings/Corporations/Autonomous Bodles/Societies under the State Government of Manipur for smooth functioning of Offices in the last few days of the Financial Year (2023-24)”, Angom Heera Singh, Deputy Secretary (GAD), Government of Manipur stated in an order for the name of the governor.

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), an umbrella body of tribal groups, said the order would hurt the sentiments of the Christian community.

“There are many Christians in Manipur. Sunday is a day of rest and we have Easter Sunday,” said ITLF spokesperson Ginza Vualzong, reported Hindustan Times.

Christian Population in Manipur is 11.79 Lakhs (41.29 percent) of total 28.56 Lakhs as per the 2011 census. They belong to tribes such as Kukis, Zo, and Nagas. Last year, Manipur experienced one of the worst ethnic clashes between the mainly Hindu Meitei and predominantly Christian Kuki-Zo tribes that killed hundreds of people, mostly people belonging to Kuki-Zo tribes.

The apex body of the Naga student group Poumai Naga Tsiidoumai Me has also urged the Manipur government to revoke the order.

“Anything less is utterly unacceptable and threatens the fabric of our democratic society. Let us uphold the spirit of tolerance and understanding by embracing diversity and respecting religious freedoms,” the Union stated.

“The decision exhibits blatant negligence towards the Christian community, particularly during a time when Christians worldwide are devoutly observing the sacred Easter celebrations’, the statement added.

It stated that it is imperative for the government to understand that governance entails respecting and accommodating the diverse religious beliefs of its citizens, not just at the convenience of one section. The state government’s move undermines the religious freedoms and sentiments of the Christian population. The youth and student communities alongside all right-thinking individuals vehemently oppose such negligence and demand immediate revocation of this discriminatory order, the union added.

“If their concern truly lies in maintaining efficiency, why not designate recent nationwide celebrations like Holi or festivals like Yaoshang as working days? Why specifically encroach upon Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, globally revered days for Christians?” the statement said.

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