Assam Police Under Fire: Unauthorized Church Probes Spark Christian Outcry

The United Christian Forum of Diphu accuses police of unauthorized data collection without notice or official orders.
Representative Image
Representative Image

Guwahati- The minority religious communities in the northeastern state of Assam are allegedly facing constant harassment. In a recent troubling development in Assam's Karbi Anglong district, a Christian group has raised serious concerns regarding alleged police intrusion into churches.

The United Christian Forum of Diphu in Karbi Anglong has accused law enforcement personnel of conducting unauthorized data collection within church premises, causing widespread panic and fear among the community.

According to the group's statement addressed to the District Commissioner, police officers have reportedly been entering churches in Diphu town without prior notification or official directives.

They claim that officers have been taking photographs and interrogating church members, creating a distressing atmosphere that has deeply affected the sentiments of the congregation.

The United Christian Forum emphasized the unwarranted nature of these actions and called for an immediate cessation of the intrusive data collection exercise. They also emphasized the emotional toll inflicted upon the community, urging authorities to respect the sanctity of religious spaces and the rights of worshipers.

The UCF highlighted instances where police personnel, without prior notification or official directives, entered church premises in both the Diphu town area under the Diphu police station and regions under the Dokmoka police station. They reported that officers were seen taking photographs and conducting inquiries about the churches, alarming believers and creating a sense of panic.

In a memorandum addressed to Madhumita Bhagawati, the District Commissioner of Karbi Anglong in Diphu, the United Christian Forum (UCF) expressed grave concerns. They stated that a recent surge in the random collection of data pertaining to churches and their members by individuals in uniform has stirred unease within the community.

“The police are enquiring about the pastor, people who are running the affairs of the church, how many people attend and the number of baptisms that have taken place till now,” asserted Allen Brooks, spokesperson of Assam Christian Forum.

The Superintendent of Police in his press release denied any sort of profiling. The SP stated that these directives were sent to all Superintendents of Police following a letter from the Assam Catholic Educational Trust to the Director General of Police, expressing apprehension regarding the security of Christian institutions and personnel in February.

“But my point is, the police is trying to investigate our churches to find out about ‘threat’ but there has not been any investigate the perpetrators,” Brooks commented.

He asked, “How are these questions connected to the threat perception?”

“We have no problem accompanying the investigation but coming to the victim first leads to the creation of a fear psychosis.”

The Mooknayak had earlier reported on the attacks faced by the Christian community of the state.

On 10th February 2024, the Kutumba Surakshya Parishad, a Hindutva organization, issued threats to missionary schools in Assam, demanding the removal of Christian symbols, including images and statues of Jesus and Mary, from school premises within two weeks.

Similarly, on February 24, another lesser-known Hindutva group called Sanmilita Santan Samaj initiated a poster campaign across the state, issuing a final warning to missionary-run schools to cease what they termed as "anti-Bharat (India) activities".

Adding to the concerns within the community about being increasingly targeted by Hindutva groups, the Assam Assembly, dominated by lawmakers from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed the Assam Healing (Prevention of Evil Practices) Bill, 2024 on February 26 through a voice vote.

This legislation aims to eliminate practices deemed as "magical healings", which are considered non-scientific and exploitative, according to the government.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has hailed the law as a significant step towards curbing evangelism in Assam, alleging that such practices are being used to facilitate conversions among tribal communities.

The spokesperson further stated that the United Christian Forum of Golaghat has also submitted a memorandum to the District Commissioner

Survey of Churches: A Lingering Issue Since 2022:

According to Allen Brooks, this is the third time that the police is investigating religious institutions of the minority community.

On December 16, 2022, the Special Branch of the Assam Police issued a circular instructing all station officers to conduct surveys of churches across the state.

However, just six days later, on December 22, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma publicly distanced himself from the circular, denying any association with its issuance or authorization.

Subsequently, on May 29, 2023, the Special Branch issued another circular, once again calling for surveys of churches statewide. However, on June 7, 2023, the Additional Director General (ADG) of the Special Branch clarified the situation to a delegation from the Assam Christian Forum (ACF).

The ADG acknowledged that the circular had been issued inadvertently and assured the delegation that such actions would not occur without prior notification and proper official orders in the future.

You can also join our WhatsApp group to get premium and selected news of The Mooknayak on WhatsApp. Click here to join the WhatsApp group.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The Mooknayak English - Voice Of The Voiceless