More than 10,000 Christians demonstrated in India’s Arunachal Pradesh State on Nov. 2, accusing the government of violating their right to worship by refusing permission to renovate a church.
Christians have been protesting since Oct. 6 when police in Tawang on the India-China border arrested Joseph Singhi, a pastor of Tawang Christian Revival Church, a neo-Christian sect. He was arrested on charges of maintaining a church on government land without permission.
“Right to freedom of religion is our constitutional right. But the state government does not allow us to construct churches. Where can we gather and worship our God?” asked Taw Tebin, who participated in the protest in state capital Itanagar organized by the ecumenical Arunachal Christian Forum (ACF).
He said Christians from all denominations joined the peaceful protest to attract the state’s attention to their grievances. “No other religious community faces restrictions on constructing their religious worship places,” Tebin told on Nov. 3.
Christian leaders like Tebin say the state government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), discriminates against Christians, who form the largest single religion in the state.
Christians comprised some 30 percent of the state’s 1.3 million people in 2011. In 2001, they accounted for only 18 percent of the population, official census records show.