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‘No resolution on Tawang church issue yet’

Tawang: The three-member committee headed by Sports and Youth Affairs minister Mama Natung on Thursday met with stakeholders here in Tawang to find a solution to the vexed church land dispute issue.

Since October last year, a controversy over the Tawang district administration’s decision to order the halting of the construction of a church in the headquarters has been brewing.

The administration had issued a statement stating that the construction of the building by the Christian Revival Church began illegally and alleged that the land had been encroached upon by the organization.

Christian bodies protested the move, claiming that the church had been targeted by the administration because it is a Christian building being built in ‘Mon’. They alleged that the administration’s decision was against secularism.

Indigenous faith bodies of the state, however, had backed the administration.

Leading to the rising tensions, the state government formed a committee headed by Natung and included MLAs Nyamar Karbak and Nyato Dukam, back in November last year to study the matter and find a solution.

Today at Tawang, all three legislators met representatives from various church organisations active in the area along with members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) and Monpa Mimang Tshokpa (MMT), an apex body of Monpa tribe.

The JAC had last year organised a rally protesting illegal construction on government land. While it had said that its rally was not against the church specifically, the rally came at a time when tensions were high already.

While the Natung-led committee was supposed to submit its report in six months since it was formed, the continued pandemic has slowed things down, with the minister even admitting to it after the meeting.

The detailed discussions of the closed-door meeting were not made public.

Speaking to the media after the marathon meeting, Natung said that the representatives of the different organisations have placed their views and grievances and that the committee will continue to further assess the situation.

No resolution has been reached yet and the committee did not set a deadline either.

“We saw the site where the church was being built and also met with the district administration. We have gathered all documents from the organisations that were submitted and will study them and find a solution,” he said.

Natung said that a resolution to the issue will be given after studying the documents. He also did not give a timeline as to when the report will be submitted but said that the committee will work to do it soon.

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