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Bishop foil bid to grab church land

ICC Note:

Police arrest trespassers trying to “grab church land” only after the Bishop threatened a hunger strike.\

By: John Malhotra

05/14/2012 India (ChristianityToday) A heritage church property at Dalhousie in Himachal that was encroached upon has been returned to the Church of North India after the bishop, PK Samantaroy threatened a hunger strike against the land grabbers.

Media reported that the prime accused Ritesh Kumar was arrested by the police on late Saturday evening.

The property known as the Khyber House has an old chapel where prayers are held regularly.

Samantaroy, who is the bishop of the Amritsar diocese, suspects the involvement of influential segments, including government officials.

Police intervened after Samantaroy threatened a hunger strike unless the trespassers were booked for criminal offence.

Chamba Superintendent of Police Kuldeep Sharma told the Indian Express that the police successfully averted the attempt of some elements to occupy the 100-year-old heritage complex.

He also said the property’s possession has been restored to the original occupants – the Diocese of Amritsar, CNI.   An FIR has been registered and police are investigating against those who vandalised the church property.

On Saturday, Bishop Samantaroy, who is also the deputy moderator of the Church of North India, met with Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and apprised him of the intruders who even kidnapped the watchman and vandalised antique furniture.

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