Andhra Pradesh is turning out to be India’s evangelical den, with missionaries and Church authorities going around the entire state as though they own it. Why would they not, after all? With Jagan Mohan Reddy, himself a devout Christian at the helm of affairs in the state, missionaries are having an absolute free run with no authorities asking questions, or initiating action against them.
As a matter of fact, evangelists have come to exercise such power in the state, that Dalits are being unceremoniously evicted from their homes to make way for Churches, and Hindus are being harassed for protesting against the construction of a symbol of Abrahamic faith in their area.
Recently, Church Pastors evicting scheduled caste families from their homes in Dorasanipalli Village in Kadapa in order to construct a Church had drawn widespread ire and condemnation.
Legal Rights Protection Forum had then approached the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the District Collector of Kadapa for action against Church authorities. Subsequently, the construction was halted.
Mulasthanam(V), Alamuru, EG Dist, AP: Illegal construction of Church despite several complaints & gentle reminders to District administration.
Villagers wrote to @India_NHRC saying they're being treated as 2nd grade citizens by authorities. Sought NHRC to protect their rights. pic.twitter.com/qIajccWFW1
— Legal Rights Protection Forum (@lawinforce) July 8, 2020
Organiser has now reported that Evangelists, having failed in Kadapa, have now shifted their focus to Moolasthanam Agraharam village in East Godavari district of the state, where they are illegally constructing a church in a Hindu-majority area, despite heavy protests by the residents. Moreover, for construction of the said church, there are no permissions which have been given by the authorities, since the evangelical enthusiasts did not deem it necessary to seek the requisite clearances.
The Government Order of the Andhra Pradesh government (G.O.MS 376) dated 29-11-2012 issued by Panchayati Raj & Rural Development Department of Andhra Pradesh mandates that construction of any religious place of worship can be permitted only if none of the neighbours’ object and a due permission is obtained from the District Collector. In the case of the illegal church construction in Moolasthanam Agraharam, the residents of the area have resorted to hunger strikes in order to stop the construction of the church, and no permission has been granted by the DC. Yet, the construction goes on.
The Hindus of the village, while resorting to a hunger strike were allegedly harassed by local police, Organiser reported. Prior to the hunger strike, the villagers had approached the Village Revenue Officer, after which they called upon higher officials including Mandal Revenue Officer and District Collector to intervene in the matter. No action was initiated despite repeated complaints by the residents, after which they were forced to sit on a hunger strike, following which they were called to the police station regularly and threatened with the filing of criminal cases. The villagers then approached the DSP to report the behaviour of local police authorities with them at the behest of missionaries. Here too, they availed no remedy.
Having exhausted all options, the villagers have now written to the National Human Right Commission, demanding the NHRC to intervene in the matter and issue appropriate directions to the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, DG Police, DC East Godavari and the concerned DSP.
In the letter to NHRC Chairman, the aggrieved Hindus have stated, “local administration to district officials are treating us as second-grade citizens of India, not even responding to our issues, moreover threatening us for raising our concerns and behaving as if we are refugees of other nations settled here.” The letter further read, “Not even considering our complaints and targeting us for raising our issues is nothing but suppressing our fundamental ‘Right to Equality’ which is guaranteed by Constitution of India.”
The absolute disregard of Andhra authorities towards distressed Hindus is appalling, to say the least.