An appeal for protection of freedom of religion

In a joint meeting of Moya Village Youth Organisation (MVYO) and Moya Village Council on 9th August 2006 Shri. Khamong & my family have been expelled from the citizenship of Moya village for being the members of the UPC and refused to sign an agreement to renounce our membership from the UPC which they threatened us to do.  They threatened the UPC members that failing to comply with their dikdat would face dire consequences including physical torture.  And, accordingly, other UPC members were forced to sign the agreement against their will except us, the two expelled persons. 

The United Pentecostal Church of Northeast India (UPC-NEI) is a registered Society with its Headquarters at Shillong, Meghalaya (Recently shifted to Aizawl city of Mizoram).  The UPC International Office is located in Hazelwood, Missouri, USA with its members spread out to 177 nations of the World. 

In 1997, some of us from Moya village under Pungro Sub-Division of Kiphire district have joined the United Pentecostal Church and started fellowship in the village with our members then. At that juncture, the villagers – the Moya Village Council, the Moya Village Youth Organisation (MVYO), D.Bs and G.Bs of Pungro town have stopped the UPC members to have a separate fellowship in the village. Accordingly, we have submitted the above quoted Memorandum to your esteem Office for redressal and for protection of freedom of religion as enshrined in the Constitution of India.

In response to our appeal, your esteem office has issued necessary instructions to the concerned authority of the then Tuensang district under whose administration once we were before the creation of the present Kiphire district. The then Additional Deputy Commissioner, Kiphire and the then SDO (Civil), Pungro, both have issued a circular and passed an interim Order to the concerned violators of the Indian Constitution. However, despite the Order, the concerned village authorities are still adamant and continue to interfere in the religious affairs by stopping our members to have a separate fellowship, brushing aside the orders of the Administrative authorities.

In the latest episode in this regard, on 20th July 2006, the MVYO, under the Presidentship of Shri R. Lothura (Who is a Government servant under Electrical Department), convened a meeting under the instigation of Shri Thsesong, Head G.B, (who is a Government agent in execution of its administrative works in the village level), forced some of the UPC members renounced their new found Christian denomination (UPC) by signing an agreement bond. 

The said MVYO threatened the UPC members with the following utterances and slogans:-

1. “If you (UPC members) don’t renounce your faith (i.e. UPC denomination) ‘President’s Rule’ will be imposed in the village.” Accordingly, they (MVYO) have dissolved the duly elected Moya Village Council. This could be the first in the history of Nagaland that a Village Youth Organization’s (which is only an NGO, a subsidiary organisation under the Village Council), imposed its own Organisation’s ‘President’s Rule’ in the village and dissolved a duly elected Village Council just because the VCC happened to be a member of a particular Christian denomination! This itself shows the high handedness of the MVYO.

2. “Civil war will break out in the village”. They almost massacre the UPC members on that day. Sensing the impending danger, some of the members in order to pacify the situation, signed an agreement to renounce their new found faith on that day, i.e. 20th July 2006. And the rest (of the UPC members) who could not sign on 20th July 2006, were called again and forced them to sign an agreement bond on 29th July 2006 against their will. 

3. The UPC members shall be expelled from the citizenship of Moya village and their houses and all other properties destroyed. Accordingly, the undersigned and Shri Khamong have been expelled on 9th August 2006 for their refusal to surrender to their (MVYO) dikdat.  Had the UPC members not signed their houses and other properties might have been destroyed. Even in our culture and customary law criminals were expelled from the village. However, we, the UPC members are law abiding and obedient citizens. We are not criminals. Can any genuine leader expel his villagers and let them suffer for no fault of theirs? Can a good leader destroy his villagers’ houses instead of help them construct it?  Action speaks louder!

4. “No leadership as well as facilities shall be given to UPC members.” Are they jealous of the VCC and the VDB Secretary (who have joined the UPC)? The VCC and the VDB Secretary were duly elected by the villagers according to their integrity and capability. Where is the common slogan of justice and equality? Whatever it is, we don’t crave for undeserving leadership.

5. The youth threatened the UPC members with dire consequences if they refuse to withdraw all the Memorandum/Petitions submitted earlier to the Government Magistrates. The UPC members will not withdraw any petition/memorandum so long they stop the existence of the UPC; rather we shall strengthen our earlier letters with more of such with all the latest episodes/incidents meted out against our members as we are doing today. 

6. Shri Thsesong, Head GB, who is a government agent in exercising its programme and policies, had acted in contrary to the expectation of the people for justice by summoning certain UPC leaders to sign and agreement to renounce UPC. Why should he work against the Constitution of India, particularly Freedom of Religion and Expression which is his bounden duty? Trying to bring unity through force will never unite the people. This is in sheer violation of the Freedom of Religion & Expression our great nation is proud of.

7. The leaders tried to suppress the people’s freedom of expression by threatening with dire consequences if they leak out the case beyond the village. Are they afraid with the truth? We have to apprise the concerned authority with our grievances.

The above seven points are just the main points we want your esteem office to peruse and examine whether it is humane at all. We have been threatened, mentally tortured, expelled from our own village which our forefathers have founded and is been kept under mental tension for the last 4 (four) years. In a democratic State like ours this kind of treatment to fellow citizens should be stopped outright by the authorities. Our people have suffered enough. Apart from the Interim Order even the Government agencies could not take any follow up action against the violators of the Government orders. At this juncture, we appeal the concern authorities to address the people’s plight with sincerity and at the earliest.

We have not committed any crime, and are not working against any person or Society’s interest. We are being treated as if we are the second category and they the first of Moya village citizenship. If they are Moya villagers so we are, we have the equal right of Moya village citizenship as good as themselves so long we are law abiding citizens, and there is no authority on their part to expel any villager for no fault of theirs. How could the leaders who are supposed to work for the welfare of the village and its citizens could expel any of its citizens without any criminal case pending against them? 

Therefore, I, on behalf of the UPC members of Pungro Sub-Division, earnestly appeal to all the right thinking citizens of Nagaland to support us in this fight against the unconstitutional resolution of Moya Village Council and the Moya Village Youth Organisation.

Pastor T. Lutsuthong
Field Director,
Pungro Mission Field,
Pungro Town, Nagaland