Authorized Church shut down by authorities, Police, Kerala

Authorized Church shut down by authorities, Police, Kerala

Authorities in Vaduvanchal, a small town in Wayanad district, in the state of Kerala, have raided a Church and shut it down, amidst nationwide raids targeting Christians.

Pastor Rajeev T Madhavan is the local Pastor of the “Full Gospel Pentecostal Church” at Vaduvanchal. Construction of a Church building commenced in 2012, in a land that was purchased in 2008, after securing the necessary permissions. The Church was finally completed and dedicated on 25th December 2017. 100’s of  believers gather every Sunday for worship.

Around 14 families live around the vicinity of the church. As per practice and rule, NOC ( No Objection Certificate) was to be obtained from each of the families, confirming that they have no objection to the presence of a Church in the area. All families unanimously signed the NOC except for a Mr. Gopalan, who was not very receptive to the presence of a church in the location.

A few months after the inauguration of the Church, Mr. Gopalan lodged a Police Complaint about ‘Noise Pollution’. Police eventually negotiated a compromise between both parties after which Mr. Gopalan signed the ‘NOC’ – assuring that he would not bother the Church again.

However, the matter was again taken to ADM (Asst. District Magistrate), who paid a visit to the premises. After inspection, he cancelled the permit claiming that the ‘colonization land’ could not be used to construct a Church.

Ironically, around 20 Temples and other religious institutions are built in and around the same area.

The Local Panchayat stepped in and suggested that they convert the Church Building into an Auditorium so as to secure the necessary permission, where prayer meetings could still be held.  The Church now called “Emmanuel Prayer Hall’, had all the necessary permissions were in place, and people started worshiping.

A few months ago, a new family relocated to a home right in front of the Church. These new residents along with Mr. Gopalan, lodged another complaint against the Church, with the Local Panchayat, Police & Tehsildar.

Separately, Pastor wrote to the Minority Commissioner, explicitly narrating the harassment and unfairness meted out to him by the local Authorities. The Commission after their investigation, passed an order that the Church should not be disturbed and allowed to pray.

After a few peaceful months, on 5th & 6th October, the Church had organised Fasting and Prayer meeting on Sunday. When they arrived, to their shock and surprise, posted on the door of the Church, was a Police Notice– stating that the Church had been “sealed” and its members forbidden to gather.

It is alleged that before the letter from the Minority Commission could be received, Mr. Gopalan had moved the Panchayat, the Police and the Tehsildar, plotted together and organised the sealing of the Church.

To add insult to injury, the religious fanatics placed a huge ‘Flex board’ that has been erected outside the Church’s now-shuttered entrance.

Poster translated from Malayalam –

Karivalam Kunnu Action Committee
Hindu Aikyavedi, Ambalavayal Panchayat.

The Pentecostal Church at the following address Ward No -10, Karivalam Kunnu, House No – 504A, Ambalavayal village in Wayanad district of Kerala, state. had been worshiping without permission.

We made a complaint and the Ambalavayal Panchayat has cancelled the house permission and the Worship is stopped.

We congratulate the local administration and the Police Department for all your support.

Unfazed by the situation, Pastor rented a place and the congregation gathered to fast and pray with even more zeal and dedication.

Pastor Rajeev T. Madhavan, speaking to Persecution Relief, although disappointed, believed that God will make a way though there seemed to be no way.

Church, please pray that God’s favour would rest upon Pastor and the congregation as they pursue steps to legitimize their status. Pray that all necessary permissions would be granted and worship service would resume. Pray that God’s perfect will may be established in that place.

Several house churches have been prevented from holding prayer gatherings, which is part of an ever-widening nationwide operation targeting unofficial “house churches” across India.

Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India. Every citizen of India has a right to practice and promote their religion peacefully.

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