The south Delhi district administration on Monday razed a church built upon encroached land during a demolition drive in Chattarpur. However, the church members termed the action 'illegal', claiming that a notice was not served to vacate the premises. The district administration, in a statement, said the church was built on the gram sabha land, which was "encroached by some people by installment of religious structures".
"Over time the encroached area started increasing in the garb of the expansion of the religious structure. Therefore, BDO office tried to undertake the demolition of the unauthorised structures," it said. It added that the matter was earlier transferred to the religious committee upon the NHRC's directive.
"Thereafter, a letter was received from the Home Police-II Department dated 03/03/2021 where they cited the HC order of 2015 in WPC no 5234/2011 wherein it was directed to demolish the entire construction above the ground floor as well as portions of the ground where idols are not installed/placed without waiting for the decision of the Religious Committee," the statement said.
According to a notice dated July 7, the office of the Block Development Officer (South) directed the "encroachers occupants" to remove the encroachment within three days. "Now, therefore, all the unauthorised occupants on the above said gaon sabha land are hereby directed to remove the encroachment themselves within three days from the date of issue of this notice falling which the action for removal of illegal encroachment upon the Gram Sabha land shall be initiated by this office and the cost of demolition shall be recovered from the encroachers," the notice read.
However, Pastor council member and lawyer John Thomas blatantly claimed that the church never received the notice. "Neither did we receive any notice, nor were we given time to vacate the land. The officers came with 150 police personnel and three JCBs and demolished the entire structure against the high court's order. We were not even allowed to retrieve our sacred things," Thomas told to the news agency.