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Hindus tear down Protestant church

Religious communities to meet to resolve building dispute reporter, Chandigarh

July 17, 2012

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Village leaders will meet church advocates after Hindus opposing the construction of a church tore down the partially built structure and stopped all work at the site on Saturday. A 20-member committee comprising 10 members each from the Christian and Hindu communities in a village in Haryana state has been formed to determine whether construction should continue. Building work had started just five days before the attack. The head of the Hindu delegation, Hanuman Prasad Bishnoi, claimed the majority of villagers were against the church's construction. Bishnoi also serves as the Sarpanch (head) of Patli Dabar village in the northern state's Sirsa district. Apart from two people who have converted to Christianity from Hinduism, none of those associated with the church are from the village, he said. He also alleged that Messiah Samiti activists are luring villagers with money for proselytizing purposes. Pastor Aliyakim Jena of the Protestant Haryana Messiah Samiti sect, said that the village housed about 25 Christian families. “If there were no Christians there, construction of a church would not have taken place.” A local police official, Ramesh Chander, said the committee will give its recommendation by July 29. “On their own, representatives of both communities have promised to settle the issue amicably,” he said. A villager, Jitender (goes by single name) who  converted to Christianity from Hinduism said a few individuals in the village are instigating others against the construction of the church. “It’s our constitutional right to choose our religion and construct our place of worship. But the local administration is siding with people who demolished the church,” he said.
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