The Little Flower Church, managed by the Syro-Malabar Church in Lado Sarai, was pulled down on July 12 following an order from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), is getting ready for Christmas. Archbishop Kuriakose Bhalangikuran, thanked Arvind Kejriwal for his swift intervention and for facilitating a temporary prayer center.
Archbishop Kuriakose Bhalangikuran said, “The demolition of the church was a great shock to the whole community and they were saddened by the unexpected attack. It was very disheartening to see the church demolished. For several years, some 1,500 faithful from around 450 families used to rely on the church for prayers.”
He further said, “I personally went to the CM Arvind Kejriwal and discussed the matter. He promised every sort of help for facilitating the rebuilding of this Church and also for providing an atmosphere for the faithful. The CM directed District Magistrate and other authorities; thanks to his timely intervention, we have now a place of worship.”
“In the aftermath of this unprecedented incident, there were attempts to politicize or communalize the issue, which I personally oppose, because being in the capital city, we wanted to have a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Due to this, we don’t want to make it an explosive topic of discussion. Therefore, we sought peaceful means by reaching out to the local authorities. Kejriwal government helped us to have a temporary structure, which people are using for their daily mass. Now, we are working on a long-term solution through the legal process,” he said.
Father Jose Kannukujhi, Parish Priest of the church said, “In the past few months, we have received a lot of support from different quarters, especially from the Aam Aadmi Party. They stood by us during hard times.”
Abrahim Reebachan, trustee of the church said, “Several political parties offered assistance at the time of demolition. After one month, everyone had gone missing. Now, only the AAP is helping us to build temporary structure here. Our prayers are going on now, which is more important.”
With impending elections in Goa and AAP making significant strides in trying to establish and enhance its voter base in Goa, the opposition is raking up the case once again to give a communal twist to a matter over which the AAP government in Delhi does not have much control over.
Understanding this demolition requires a deep-dive into the structural mess of the governance framework of Delhi. Delhi being the capital of India is an administrative nightmare with heavy multiplicity of agencies and frequent jurisdictional turf wars. The Delhi government, chosen by the people, has jurisdiction over all the departments except Land, Police and Services, which come directly under the control of the Central Government through the Lieutenant Governor (LG).
Delhi Church Demolition and the involvement of AAP Government in it is misleading as it is clear that this matter started long before AAP came into power; and the demolition was ordered by BJP controlled DDA.
Pointing fingers and blaming CM Arvind Kejriwal over a case which has been going on for over a decade and culminating in an event of demolishing of a religious structure on encroached land, clearly points to opportunistic propaganda to spruce up communal sentiments.