Pastor Ravi* and his congregation are grateful for being able to assemble regularly for prayers at their church in Kolar, Karnataka. A few months ago, it appeared like the end of the road for this close-knit community of around 50 members. They were shocked when the authorities told them that their church had to be shut down because they lacked permissions and that there were serious complaints about their church activities as well.
The authorities were led to believe that the Church building was standing on unauthorized land. They had also received complaints alleging that the victims were offering inducements and fraudulently converting people to Christianity. Both these allegations were later found to be without any basis. A group of persons involved in property fraud had made up these allegations to malign the victims and attempt to grab the church land. The land-grabbers collaborated with another group that specializes in false propaganda and who were also opposed to the Christians. Together they even created a video to spread disinformation about the church property and church activities which was then widely circulated on social media and other online platforms that are sympathetic to such propaganda.
ADF India allied lawyers learnt of this case and travelled down to meet Pasto Ravi. He narrated the circumstances in which the Church had been shut down for several weeks.
ADF India allied lawyer helped him draft a complaint and accompanied him to meet with the District Superintendent of Police. They explained that the allegations of illegal conversions were baseless and also showed the police the property documents which revealed that the Church has full ownership of the land.
The miscreants were subsequently summoned and questioned by the police. A detailed investigation is underway. Meanwhile, following a preliminary inquiry, the authorities have allowed the Church services to restart. For several months now, the Christians have peacefully gathered for worship at the church.
ADF India is an alliance building legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people. ADF India, through a collaborative network of allies and partners engages in legal support, advocacy, training, research, and documentation.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the individual