Church razed to ground over land dispute

Gang of 20, demolish Faith Lutheran Church at Pillanna Garden using an earthmover

A gang of around 20 men demolished a church over land dispute in Pillanna Gardens, KG Halli late on Thursday night.

According to police, the gang arrived at Faith Lutheran Church and demolished the structure with the help of an earthmover. The men attacked a few persons who attempted to intervene and stop the demolition. Nearby residents alerted the police and the gang fled the spot after noticing policemen. A platoon of the Karnataka State Reserve Police has been deployed at the spot as a precautionary measure.

The police have arrested three persons - Patrick, Stephen and Parthiban -in connection with the incident.

It is learnt that a few years ago that Patrick had purchased the land in question from Rahim Sharif, a few years ago. Patrick rented out the land to a group of people who started a catering business by erecting a shed over the land. A couple of years later, these men sub-let the land to another group of people who started conducting prayer meetings in the shed. As the number of devotees increased, they constructed a small building on the said site and named it Faith Lutheran church. 

A year ago, Patrick asked them to vacate the premises, but the church committee members refused to do so saying that they were the owners of the land.

The dispute between Patrick and the church committee members took an ugly turn on Thursday, with the former demolishing the structure, the police said.

“We have asked both the parties to come up with documents for verification before initiating further action. Patrick says the church members have forged the documents. Partick is also said to part of the committee. There is no clarity in the case as of now and it is being investigated. Patrick and the committee members have filed complaints against each other,” said a senior police officer.

Deepak, a committee member, told Deccan Herald  that around 2,000 people used to the visit the church which was started in 1988. Deepak said that the committee had all the documents to establish its ownership of the land. He described the demolition as an attempt to grab the land.

The church authorities had installed CCTV cameras but the gang had damaged them also. The police have recovered the hard disk and are attempting to identify the miscreants by verifying the footage.

In November, 2015, a few people had barged into the church and damaged the property. They had warned the people not to step into the property failing which they would be booked for trespassing.

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