India: Local planning enforcers destroy hated new church construct within a week of erection

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London: A makeshift church made from metal framework and corrugated Iron sheets has been torn down and bent out of shape by local Municipal workers in the State of Tenanga, India.

The church of 100 people have decided to continue at the same location despite fear of further destruction and personal attacks.

A distraught Pastor sent out a video describing the demolition of his church by extremist groups who used recent planning laws to destroy the nascent construct they used for worship since 30th January 2021.

On Friday 4th February less than a week since the metal frame, corrugated iron sheet construct had been put up, 4 members of the church were on site building a washroom and toilet into the church structure.  Suddenly, with no previous warning mean from the Municipal Council arrived with a JCB and tore down their makeshift building.

Nothing remains of the temporary Church construction that Pastor Vinod had hoped would be sufficient for the first few years of the church.

The 4 members of the church remonstrated with the local government workers but the men who were accompanied by local RSS members, forcibly moved the Christian men from the location as they revelled in removing what they knew was a Christian Church.

One Elder of the church Mr. Vajrala Subba Reddy called Pastor Vinod Elijah Jyothi (39 yrs) who was unable to attend due to a prior commitment.  H spoke with the demolition group and explained that the owner had given permission for the building to go up and that a planning application was in process. But the municipal men simply went about destroying the metal construct ensuring as much damage was done as possible, so that the same sheets and poles could not be used again.

The damage has caused considerable loss to Pastor Vinod and his 100 strong congregation, but even worse the Municipal Council has asked for the church to first speak to their Hindu Neighbours and seek a consensus of permission before they retry to build any church at the location.

For centuries plots of land across India have been used to make churches, temples and mosques without the need of such permission.  But since the last 15 years under the rule of President Modi and his BJP party new laws have been introduced that require churches to seek permission from local residents before submitting an application for planning for any religious building.

Thus far Hindu temples who can easily get community support have been excluded from the process of getting planning permission and it seems that only Christians and other non-Hindu faiths are obliged to follow this new process.

Pastor Elijah, said:

“Municipal officers tore down our building without any prior notice or warning.

“Legally a minimum period of a month’s warning should be provided and we can apply for a retrospective application.

“This has hit our church financially, as our previous materials are not able to be used again.

“We will continue to operate our church on this land gifted by a local Christian benefactor.

“Already an application for planning has bene submitted to the Municipal Council and we are trying to get permission from local Hindus.

“If we have to change the time of our services to cause least offence we will do so.

“We just want to be able to worship God in freedom and hope we are allowed to do so.”

Pastor Vinod, resides in Beeramguda, Hyderabad, Tenagana State and has been in Christian Church ministry for the last 5 years under

“The Praying Church” Ministry with around 100 members in their congregation, prayerfully decided to start a church branch the nearby area of Ameenpur, Chandanagar, Hyderabad, where there is no official Church of any denomination.   A few house churches are running with small congregations in the area which is predominantly (98%) Hindu.

Pastor Vinod and BACA Officer Dr Vuchula Satayandam discuss the recent demolition.

Pastor Vinod, added:

“This Church Demolition was initiated because of complaints made by some fanatic Hindus of RSS and BJP.

“They are  Anti-Christians and the hatred that they spread and power they have, meant the Municipal Council did not follow normal procedure and immediately demolished our church.

“This demolition was supported by Chandanagar Municipal Chairman Mr. Panduranga Reddy.

“The demolition orders were given by Mrs. Sujatha, Commissioner of Municipal Corporation, Chandanagar , Hyderabad.”

“When a few church members and I visited the Municipal Commissioner after the demolition, she confirmed that, she only gave orders for demolition, because a church was begun without

“Mrs Sujatha has made it clear that she has had hundreds of complaints about the church construction and from senior local Hindus.

“We have been told if we cannot get local Hindus to agree the church it will not be permitted.”

The damaged  materials cost around Rs.1,00,000 (£1000). Pastor Vinod has asked BACA to help with the cost of new material so that once permission is granted The Praying Church, can start to rebuild again.  If you are able to help with a donation towards this fund please donate (here).  Pastor Vinod has decided to build a house on the plot of land as House churches are rarely stopped and planning will be granted for a home.  He will then alter the planning permission at a later stage.  He is adamant that the area should not be left bereft of a church.

 

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