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Radical Hindus Encroach on Church in Ajmer , Rajasthan

Global Council of Indian Christians

5/23/07 India (Persecution Update India) – More than a dozen persons, including local leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party encroached upon the property of the Church of North India (CNI). The police acted on a complaint filed on behalf of Collin S. Theodore, the CNI Bishop of the Diocese of Rajasthan, in the Civil Lines police station.

There was tension in the area on Monday (21st May) as Gopal Choudhary, up-pradhan of Srinagar Panchayat samiti, along with a group of supporters, forcibly vacated the tenant of the Lower Mission Bungalow situated near the Ajmer Club. Mr. Choudhury, who claimed a lease deed for the property in his name for 20 years, issued by one Solomon Smith of Indore , was among the 13 persons arrested by the police. Mr. Choudhary and another arrested, Vishnu Prasad Chokriwal, are local BJP leaders.

It took some time for the police authorities to act even as the senior functionaries of the CNI in Rajasthan alleged illegal occupation of the church property in the Civil Lines locality in Ajmer by persons who claimed they had the lease deed from the Canadian Presbyterian Mission. However this claim was contested as the properties said to belong to two trusts — the United Church of Northern India Trust Association and Church of North India Trust Association — governed by CNI, Rajasthan diocese.

The Christian leaders alleged the connivance of the local ruling party men, including MLA from Masuda, Vishnu Modi, in the move which, they said, was part of a bigger conspiracy to take possession of more than half a dozen church properties belonging to the British period in the town.

The encroachers, who threw out the belongings of the tenant Vijay Gupta from the Lower Mission Bungalow, situated near the Ajmer Club on Sunday and occupied the premises, were arrested from the spot on Monday evening.