Bijay Kumar Minj, New Delhi
Updated: July 15, 2021 09:06 AM GMT
Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara (left) and priests inspect the demolished Little Flower Church in Delhi on July 13. (Photo supplied)
A Catholic bishop in the national capital has urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help rebuild a church demolished by authorities who claimed it was on unauthorized land.
Little Flower Church, managed by the Syro-Malabar Church in Lado Sarai, was pulled down on July 12 following an order from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).
“We have appealed to Indian premier Modi to look at the matter and do the needful as it is a very serious matter of concern and if not taken seriously it may give a wrong message,” Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad told UCA News.
“Our papers on church land are complete and there was no such issue in the past. The incident has extremely saddened our people, who are in a state of shock.”
Archbishop Bharanikulangara said the land was bought in 2006 and Little Flower Church had been holding services for the last 12 years.
However, on July 9, a notice was put on the church’s boundary wall saying it was on illegal land.
We urge the Delhi government to make alternative arrangements for the people who lost the church to pray
On July 12, the DDA came with police officers and machinery and demolished the church.
The prelate said it was very disheartening to see the church demolished, especially as the DDA did not even give church officials time to explain their stance.
Church and political leaders across India have condemned the demolition.
Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil of Verapoly said the demolition “has cast a shadow on the secular nature of the country. For several years, some 1,500 faithful from around 450 families used to rely on the church for prayers.”
Metropolitan Kuraikose Theophilose of the Jacobite Church based in the southern state of Kerala said that such acts are an infringement on the rights conferred on citizens and religions by the constitution.
“We urge the Delhi government to make alternative arrangements for the people who lost the church to pray,” he added.
Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi, told media that he was told the action was ordered by the DDA, which comes under the federal government, but he assured he would provide all help and support.
Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of Kerala, described the incident as “shocking.”
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.