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GCIC Intervention Stops Government’s Plan To Take Over Church Land

Global Council of Indian Christians

5/1/07 India (Persecution Update India) – Global Council of Indian Christians, had reported Assam ‘s Government plan to take over the Guwahati’s 162-year-old Baptist 2.6-hectare complex to build a Parking lot.

GCIC is pleased that the new government order cancelling the takeover says the Baptist land is not required for the parking space.

Reverend J.M. Ngul Khan Pau, general secretary of the Council of Baptist Churches in North East India (CBCNEI) was visibly relieved when the Assam Government announced scrapping of the plans.

American Baptist missioners established the targeted complex in 1845, lying on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River , in Guwahati.

The controversial seizure order cited an “acute shortage of parking places” in the city of 1.6 million people due to the increase in motor vehicles. In light of this, the authorities identified “some vacant locations” for parking facilities including a multi-storied car park.

“You are, therefore, requested to arrange the handing over of the land to the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority so that multi-storied car parking can be constructed at the earliest,” the order directed.

Church people say their “vacant” area has more than 20 Church buildings and serves as CBCNEI headquarters.

With approximately 2 million members, the council represents the largest Baptist group in South Asia . Church records show the American Baptist missioners published the first journal in the Assamese language in 1855 from the mission.

Sonia Gandhi also asked the Assam government to find an alternate site.

Members of parliament noted that the CBCNEI manages and links more than 5,800 churches, 500 educational institutions and 125 hospitals in the region. They also pointed out that Indian law stipulates that buildings more than 50 years old should be regarded as national heritage.