Baptist World Alliance
Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Phone: +1 703 790 8980
Fax: +1 703 893 5160
January 19, 2011

For Immediate Release

Attack on Baptist pastor leads to riots


Washington (BWA)--At least 10 people are dead, approximately 2,000 houses burned, and an estimated 50,000 people displaced following clashes between two tribes in the North East Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya.


Baptists have mobilized resources to assist the displaced and those otherwise affected.


The disturbances between the Garo and Rabha tribes began on January 1 following an alleged attack on a Garo Baptist pastor in Meghalaya who was returning from a family wedding earlier on December 22. "Many villages have been torched and people left homeless," reported Wanne Garrey of the Garo Baptist Convention. Church leaders, she said, were "trying their best to calm down the situation."


The incidents occurred in the East Garo Hills region of Meghalaya and the Goalpara district of Assam, both bordering each other. The region has a large Baptist population. Much of Northeast India, including the states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur, has significant concentrations of Baptist Christians.


"The Garo Baptist Convention has started its relief work," Garrey reported. "It is very sad and many are still living in temporary relief camps in pathetic condition though some have returned home. Healing will take time as many have lost their property."


The area was placed under heavy curfew for several days. Even though the curfew has since been lifted, the banning of the assembly of more than five persons will continue to be in force.


Shambu Singh, a government official, reportedly claimed that the ethnic clashes between the two warring tribes were "very well planned and there may be some organizations behind it."


Two peace committees consisting of persons drawn from the affected areas in both states have been constituted. The committees have district officials, religious leaders and civil society groups from both the warring tribes as members.