Villagers of Moolasthanam Agraharam in East Godavari District, AP on a hunger strike to demand stopping of the construction of a illegal church and harassment by local police
Recently, the news of Church Pastors evicting SC families from their homes in Dorasanipalli Village in Kadapa to construct a Church had drawn widespread ire and condemnation. LRPF has approached the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and District Collector of Kadapa for action against Church authorities for crime committed against the families of marginalized communities. The construction was stopped but elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh the Evangelists have yet again shown their clout with the administration in the state.
The construction of a illegal church was started by Evangelists in the Moolasthanam Agraharam Village in the East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh right in the middle of the residential area where only Hindu families reside. The villagers objected to the construction of the Church as it was illegal and over concerns of disturbance to the peace and public order in the village. The pleas of the villagers to the Evangelists to stop the construction fell on deaf ears and that was when they decided to approach the Panchayat and the Police.
An RTI was also filed by the Villagers of Moolathanam Agraharam with the local authorities. As expected the RTI response proved that no permission was accorded for construction of the Church. Incidentally, the GO of the Andhra Pradesh government (G.O.MS 376) dated 29-11-2012 issued by Panchayat Raj & Rural Development Department of Andhra Pradesh mandates that construction of any religious place of worship can be permitted only if none of the neighbours object and a due permission is obtained from the District Collector.
The said Church had not obtained any such permission and the residents of the village too objected to its construction. Yet the construction was not stopped. The villagers then approached the Village Revenue Officer, then approached the higher officials including Mandal Revenue Officer and District Collector for necessary action. None of them intervened in the matter and instead the local police started to harass the Hindus for complaining.
The villagers then resorted to a hunger strike to stop the construction of the illegal church. The local police officials immediately started harassing the villagers. They were called to the police station frequently and were threated with filing of criminal cases if they did not give up the matter. This showed the influence of the Evangelists among the police and the local administration.
The villagers then approached the District Superintendent of Police and explain the behaviour of local police and requested justice in the entire issue. They did not get any justice here too. Left with no choice, the villagers have now approached the National Human Rights Commission in the hope of getting justice.
Appeal to NHRC
Letter of the villagers of Moolasthanam Agraharam to NHRC requesting their intervention and stopping the illegal Church from being constructed
The villagers of Moolasthanam Agraharam have written a letter to the Chairperson of the NHRC explaining the entire issue. Organiser is in possession of the letter which explains the entire issue beginning from the construction of the church. They narrate their harrowing experience with the local administration officials and the police.
"...from local administration to district officials are treating us as second grade citizens of India, not even responding to our issues, moreover threatening us for raising our concerns and behaving as if we are refugees of other nations settled here", says the letter.
The letter says that their fundamental right to live peacefully without any fear has been violated. "Not even considering our complaints and targeting us for raising our issues is nothing but supressing our fundamental ‘Right to Equality’ which is guaranteed by Constitution of India", they write in the letter.
In their appeal they seek the intervention of the NHRC to the Director General of Police, Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, District Collector of East Godavari, District Superintendent of Police and urge them to conduct an enquiry in this matter and to take strict remedial action to halt construction of the Church which is detrimental to public peace and order.