No Bible, Say Tribals: Cross Removed, Church Building On Tribal Land ‘Rechristened’ As Sarna BhawanThe Church on illegally occupied tribal land is converted to ‘Sarna Bhawan’  (pic via twitter @sauravw91)

Over 100 tribals of Garkhatanga village in Ranchi’s Namkum Block removed the Cross from a Church building and named it ‘Sarna Bhawan’ (place of worship for Sarna community) after ‘Shuddhi’ on Saturday (October 20).

The Church building had been built on the Tribal land and the dispute regarding land ownership had reached SDO Court. The Court relying on SC ST Act gave the ruling in favour of Sarna Tribals, as reported by EENadu India.

The SP (rural), Ajit Peter Dungdung, however hinted at continuation of the dispute. He said that the court ruling was only about the ownership of land and not the building. “The building was not there when the illegal land transfer took place", he said adding that the construction may still be challenged in any court.

The villagers were backed by Jharkhand Adivasi Sarna Vikas Samiti (JASVS) and several other tribal outfits. JASVS President Megha Oraon said that the land in question was a ‘Pahan Zameen’, which is under the control of the ‘Pahan’ of the community. Though Pahan derives his income from the land, the ownership remains with village sarna samiti.

President of Kendriya Yuva Sarna Samiti, Soma Oraon said that everyone had raised an objection over the illegal transfer and construction at the time but no one listened to them. “Thereafter, we filed a suit in magistrate’s court”, he said.

Presidents of both the aforementioned Tribal outfits have criticised Christian missionaries in strong terms for forceful conversions and encroaching upon their land and resources, as reported by Dainik Jagran.

In this pretext, the BJP government in Jharkhand had brought Freedom of Religion Act 2017. Many believe that polarisation between Christian missionaries and Sarna Tribals will also have an impact on upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

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