Church properties face encroachment in TS, A.P.

July 14, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:49 am IST - Hyderabad:

Christian missions in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have lost a good share of their property to encroachers, private entrepreneurs and also commercial builders and developers in the last ten years. While the minority commission has pending enquiry close to 15 land alienation cases, about 25 such cases are running their course in different courts of law.

Whistle blowers

on the job

Commercial establishments including shops and malls have come up on alienated church properties, whistle blowers said.

A majority of church properties that were alienated are located in Hyderabad, Medak, Warangal, Ranga Reddy, Guntur, Krishna, West and East Godavari and Prakasam districts.

In Hyderabad alone, Methodist Boy’s High School, Abids, has seen large scale encroachment and alienation.

In Mahabubnagar, a property of the Mennonite Brethren Church was mortgaged in exchange of Rs 38 crore, a petition filed in the High Court revealed.

In Guntur district, properties that were sold or alienated in the past include that of Anantham, a mission hospital and Decker compound, Vadarevu and Rentachintala that together amount to 49 acres belonging to Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC).

In Krishna district key properties that were occupied include properties of Harison Sathram owned by the Church of South India (CSI).

As church properties are facing illegal sale and mortgaging, the two State governments are planning to oversee matters related to Christian missionary land and institutions.

To this effect, the Andhra Pradesh government constituted a Group of Ministers on June 26 to look on protection of Christian minority properties even as Telangana government is planning to set up a committee to study possibilities of streamlining financial transactions with regard to Christian properties.

Order

“Minorities commissions have been regularly intervening in land issues of churches. Andhra Pradesh State Minorities Commission gave an order stalling the alienation of AELC property in Guntur district in June this year,” said G Isaac Dayardhana Rao, president of Lutheran Laity Movement, Guntur.

According to Bhaskar Benny, president of Christian Front, to protect Christian properties, a board along the lines of Wakf Board, should be established.

However, the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches (APFC), that has been opposing State intervention in matters of the church, once again maintained that it will continue to oppose government’s intervention in such matters.

“Unlike the Wakfs and Hindu Endowments, the church properties are private properties as they are bought and owned by the churches. Hence, the APFC opposes the interference of the Government in the administrative affairs of churches and their institutions, including their properties, which is guaranteed by the constitution,” APFC spokesperson said in a release.

A board on the lines of Wakf Board is the need of the hours

Bhaskar Benny,

President of Christian Front.

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