Guwahati: The Catholic bishops in Northeast have condemned the church demolition in Delhi on Monday.

“It is shocking and sad news,” said Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, also the president of North East India Regional Bishops’ Council (NEIRBC).

The Little Flower Church in Lado Sarai was demolished on July 12 by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation citing encroachment of government’s agricultural land “by some people by instalment of religious structures”.

Speaking on behalf of NEIRBC, the Archbishop said, “Demolition of the church in Delhi has hurt the religious sentiments of the peace-loving Christian community not only in Delhi but across the country. The number of such incidents has been on the rise in the recent past, including many parts of Northeast India.”

The Little Flower Church in Lado Sarai was demolished by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation

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Citing a stay order in place since 2015, the NEIRBC president said, “Why such a hurry to demolish a place of worship that is in place for more than ten years? The Municipal Corporation should have given sufficient time to the Church personnel to take legal recourse before the demolition. Such a hurried action has not only hurt the religious sentiments of the people but it also betrays hidden agenda of the local administration”.

A statement issued by Fr Ginto K Tom of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Faridabad said it was “highly deplorable to see this holy worshipping place of more than 2000 Syro-Malabar believers destroyed and devastated… Legal action will be taken against the illegal demolition of the church of the mugrant and minority community.”

The site of the church, which was in possision of parish member Philipose John since 1982, was donated to the parish in 2006.

“The parish has all the required legal documents and has been regularly paying the property tax, water and electricity bills,” Fr Ginto said.

Recalling how the blocking of a Church construction in Arunachal Pradesh and demolition order for churches in Manipur had caused protests and unrest in the Northeast region, the Archbishop said the demolition of church in Delhi may set a bad precedence and embolden the land mafia.

“We appeal to the government and the municipal corporations not to violate the religious sentiments of the people and not disturb the religious harmony of the country,” the Archbishop said.

We pray that peace, justice and religious harmony may prevail in our country, the Archbishop said.

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