Presbyterian Church accused of radicalizing in Meghalaya

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Shillong (Meghalaya),Oct 9 : Leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Meghalaya have been accused of attempting to radicalize the state along religious lines.

The accusation was made by the Legal Rights Observatory (LRO) in a letter to the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister, Hardeep Sing Puri on October 5.

This accusation has come in the backdrop of Presbyterian Church leaders recently calling on the Union Minister with a request for the Government of India to allot a plot of land at the National Capital for the construction of a Presbyterian Church there.

Objecting to any such allotment of land, the LRO which is a legal rights organisation affiliated with the Hindu-nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said that this objection is being fuelled by ground realities in Meghalaya where it claimed that there has been ‘extreme religious radicalization’ of the society in the last few years.

Accusing a number of leaders of the Presbyterian Church of fuelling this radicalization, the LRO said, “Virulent ideology preached, inculcated and spread by Presbyterian Christian leaders have vitiated socio-cultural atmosphere of the state.”

Dubbing the Presbyterian Church as an ‘aggressive, radical Christian denomination’ the LRO said that if it is given space to build a Church in the national capital, the chances are high that the Church will try to create a divide within the society in Delhi.

The LRO also claimed that within the last 5 years Meghalaya’s ancient Niam Khasi religion and its followers, which are in numerical minority have came under ruthless persecution by Presbyterian radical Christian elements.

“The Mylliem incident of denial of funeral right to Niam Khasi priest, attack and destruction of ancient Niam Khasi religions holy place Lum Sohpetbneng are a few prominent cases of persecution by Presbyterian Christian radicals in Meghalaya,” the LRO said while adding that many cases are not reported due to pressure by the Church on followers of indigenous faith victims.

In this backdrop, the LRO has reiterated its stiff opposition to any move on the part of the Central Government to allot land in the national capital for the construction of a Presbyterian Church.

It may be noted here that the LRO has been at loggerheads with the Presbyterian Church ever since the Jaiñtia Students’ Union had demanded the removal of a Ganesha idol from the entrance of National Institute of Technology (NIT).

Reacting to this demand, the LRO had reciprocated by writing to the East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner on October 3 last demanding that copies of the Holy Bible are removed from Shillong Civil Hospital so as to maintain the secular fabric of medical facilities.

“In continuation of the NIT idol precedent, we want the Meghalaya government to immediately remove every copy of the Holy Bible placed near patients’ beds of Shillong Civil Hospital,” the LRO had stated.

With no action in this regard, the LRO had followed up with another letter to the Chief Secretary on Tuesday wherein it alleged that officials at the office of the Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills (EKH) district had deleted its emails and later claimed that the office had not received any communication from the LRO.

“Did someone from DC office add LRO email id in a spam folder, to avoid any action requested by us?” the LRO quipped.

“When the state Chief Secretary and Health Secretary received LRO emails and DC Shillong not acknowledging receipt of any such email, who deleted the LRO email from inbox?” the LRO asked in the letter to the Chief Secretary.

The LRO also said that it is yet to receive any reply from the DC and Superintendent of Police EKH district on the complaint it had filed against those who had allegedly destroyed a Niam Khasi place of worship at Kongthong village on May 27, 2019.

In this matter, it may be noted here that the Raid Kongthong had earlier clarified that there has been no vandalism or desecration of the sanctum ‘Niang Phyrnai’ by elders of the Khongthong Church.

This apparently was the result of a power struggle for the post of Sordar of Raid Kongthong between Sylloklang Majaw who had the approval of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and Kanol Majaw who did not.

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