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Sunday, June 11, 2023

TN: 87 year-old Hindu man’s land encroached to build a church

The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to remove a church that has encroached on an octogenarian’s property. A pastor had built the church on the rented property and refused to leave even after court order.

The 87 year old Eshwaran, a Chennai resident went to court seeking relief and recovery of his property. Eshwaran’s brother had bought the 3,800 sq.ft property in 1960. Later he died and Eshwaran inherited the property. But the 1 acre property was taken over by the government under the Land Acquisition Act.

However Eshwaran went to court against it and the court cancelled the acquisition. It also directed the revenue department to change the land documents accordingly as Eshwaran is the sole owner of the said property. Meanwhile, taking advantage of this confusion one Dhanasekara and Paul Moses built a church by encroaching on the concerned property.

Despite multiple complaints no action was taken against the encroachers. So the old man went to the court again to recover his property. It appears that the matter already went to court once and was solved through Lok Adalat. It is said that Dhanasekaran rented out the property to Paul Moses and the former agreed to leave the property in Lok Adalat.

Other cases filed by Paul Moses were also heard and dismissed. But he continued to encroach and refused to leave. So Eshwaran had to go to the court again. This time the court noted that the Tehsildar had inspected the property and gave patta in Eshwaran’s name which clearly shows that he is the sole owner of the property. 

The court ruled that after Dhanasekaran agreed to move out and assured that there will be no interruptions from his side, Paul Moses had no right to legally challenge Eshwaran. It also directed the government officials to remove the encroachment and return the property to Eshwaran.

In a similar incident, a Hindu family protested on knees to petition the CM’s Special Cell to recover their property from encroachment. The Rs 12 crore worth property was encroached by a Pastor who built a church on it. When the family went to the police he used his influence to deflect action against him and made them file false cases against the family.

It is not a new thing for independent or denominational pastors to get involved in such unlawful activities. The church as an institution is one of the major land grabbers in Bharat. In February a Syro Malankara bishop and 5 priests were arrested in an illegal sand mining case in Tamil Nadu after encroaching riverbed properties illegally. In Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district a church has been built on a hilltop by encroaching 5 acres of forest land.

Christian Revival Church in Arunachal Pradesh encroached on government land in Tawang district and built an illegal church. 2 pastors had encroached on the Hindu SC Budaga Jangala Community’s land in Andhra Pradesh to build a church. Another pastor from Kerala was arrested for encroaching government land in Jarkhand for church planting and forcing Sarna tribals to convert.

This article shows how encroachment and land grabbing by the church have resulted in destroying urban public spaces and nature in Chennai. Despite being, reportedly, the second-largest landholder in Bharat, thanks to the British government’s benevolence, the church continues to grab lands from innocent individuals and the gullible government.

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