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Police shut down tribal church in Karnataka, India

By James Varghese
06/08/09 KARNATAKA, INDIA (ANS) — A newly built Indian Apostolic church was forcefully locked up by police in a village called Chennagiri, Davanagere District in Karnataka state, India, on Sunday, June 7, 2009.

According to news released by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) in their website, the police disrupted the Sunday service claiming the church was opened with an “illegal license.”

The website said that the church was recently built and was being dedicated on May 29, 2009 with permission from the Panchayat (Village Administration). The Pastor who ministers in this church is Pastor Pius.

The website also said that, after a few days of obtaining the permission from the Village Administration, the Village Administration President and other Hindu radicals interrupted the meeting one day where Pastor Pius and other believers had gathered together for prayer.

The Panchayat President questioned the pastor saying, “Who gave you permission to build this church?” Pastor Pius explained that he had already obtained the necessary permission from the Panchayat. However the Panchayat President refused to listen to his explanations saying no churches were bei ng allowed in the village since they engaged in “conversion activities.”

Meanwhile the church members were sent away and the church was locked up by the Village Administration head.

The website reported that on May 31, 2009, a notice was sent to the church saying that the license that had been acquired for the church was now canceled.

And according to the website, On Sunday, June 7, 2009, when the believers had gathered for worship, the local police came and asked the believers to leave and forcibly locked up the church. When the pastor went to the police station, he was told to register a case and deal with the matter in the court.

The Superintendent of Police of the concerned place has been informed of the entire incident.

Pastor Pius has been ministering to tribal villages within a 15 kms radius for the past two years. The majority of the 25 members of his church are from a tribal background and most of the attacks come from members of the higher castes in the area.

GCIC requests the prayers o f Gods people for the opening of the church as the believers now have nowhere to meet together and worship.