Resolve Tawang church issue within a week, demands Arunachal Christian body

A pastor of the Revival Church was arrested on charges of constructing a church illegally

A Christian forum has set the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Arunachal Pradesh a week’s deadline to resolve the issue of a church allegedly being constructed illegally in Buddhist-majority Tawang.

The police in Tawang, about 450 km northwest of State capital Itanagar, had on October 6 arrested Joseph Singhi, a pastor on charges of constructing a church without any land allotment. The pastor, arrested on the basis of a complaint by the district Land Revenue and Survey officer, was released on bail hours later.

The police also detained and interrogated eight others associated with the Tawang Christian Revival Church.

In a memorandum to Chief Minister Pema Khandu on October 9, the Arunachal Christian Forum (ACF) said the government was ‘blocking’ the construction of a permanent structure where a temporary church has existed since 1999.

The ACF said repeated applications for land allotment were never processed by the local authorities and a similar request was also made to the Chief Minister’s Office in 2003. The forum asked the CMO to resolve the issue within a week or face a “democratic protest”.

“India is a secular country and the right to freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution to enable its citizens to freely profess and practice their religious beliefs. Quoting the Supreme Court’s 2009 ban on unauthorised construction of religious structures on public streets, roads and public utility spaces is simply unjustified here,” ACF president Toko Teki said.

The Arunachal Pradesh Christian Revival Church Council had earlier said the Christians have no intention to disturb the way of life in Tawang, known for a 339-year-old Buddhist monastery.

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