Church services disrupted, Christians abused by religious fanatics

  July 23, 2016

  Erode, Tamil Nadu

  Damage to Property, Intimidation, Threats and Harassment, Physical assault

In Ganapati Nagar, Guruva Rediyoor post, Anthiyur Taluk, Erode District on July 23, 2016 the residents surrounding the Church were instigated by leaders of a fanatical right-wing outfit to file a complaint at the Ammapettai police station stating that the church was involved in unlawful and suspicious activities, including religious conversion by force, fraud and allurement. The complainants even got this reported in a local newspaper and also lodged a complaint with the district collector. One the basis of this complaint, the police initiated an inquiry on July 24th.

The church was also visited by various district authorities, including the Village Administrative Officer (VAO) on July 25th, Revenue Inspector on July 27th and the Panchayat Development Office (PDO) on July 30th.

The Police visited during the Sunday worship service on July 31st and advised them to keep the volume low since the complainants had objected to the volume levels. Thereafter they did not face any problems for a couple of weeks.

However, on August 14, 2016 a handicapped person from a neighboring village was brought to the church in an auto for Sunday prayers. The local residents stopped the auto and objected to people from neighboring villages coming for prayer to their village. They stopped others on their way to church and verbally abused them.

The Christians preferred a complaint to the police on 18.8.2016 seeking protection for the smooth functioning of their worship service and also the safety of those who were attending the prayers.

Two police officers were thus present on 21.8.2016 during the 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM Sunday morning service to offer security to the Christians. However, the religious fanatics came and created a ruckus and also carried out a road rokho to block access to the Church premises. The police tried to explain that it is the right of the Christians to pray in their own place, but to no avail .

The police requested the Pastor to conclude the prayers at 10:15 AM, since the local MLA and minister in the present TN government Mr. Karupannan was visiting the area and they didn’t want the conflict to prolong and go out of hand.

On 22.8.2016, a completely untrue report was given in the newspaper stating that the Christians were trying to distribute gospel tracts and that they were stopped by the police who arrested 25 persons, whereas not a single Christian had even been held by the police for questioning!

On 23.8.2016, the Pastor has been called to meet the DSP, Bhavani who is to inquire into the happenings of the past few days.

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