A Pentecostal convention scheduled to begin in Kakarkuva village of Dhar on Monday was called off after the district administration cancelled permission late on Sunday saying the event could become a law and order issue.
The sub-divisional magistrate had on April 15 given permission for a three-day Atimiya Jagruti Sabha, Satsang and prayers asking the organizer to conduct activities between 8 am and 11 pm. The other conditions were not to use loudspeakers and avoid raising “objectionable slogans”.
“We were told at the last moment that the permission stands cancelled. Many participants from other places have already come. We had spent a lot on the event,” pastor Bharat Singh Mehda told The Indian Express.
SDM K Sharma said the permission was revoked because the organizers had kept the administration in the dark about the possible turnout at the event. He said large tents had been pitched at the venue. Without elaborating, the SDM said, local people had objected to the gathering.
“They are free to hold a small prayer meeting in the local church but no big function will be allowed,” the SDM said.
The pastor said a large tent had been pulled down by the organizer after a large police force arrived at the venue.
“We are not being allowed to hold even a prayer meeting in the church,” the pastor alleged. He said every year about 1000 people attend the event but this year the number was expected to be more than 5,000.
In October last year, the administration in Alirajpur district had cancelled permission for a similar event in Jobat citing law and order situation. A few days before the four-day event was to begin, a marriage between a Hindu girl and a Christian boy had vitiated atmosphere in the town. Right-wing groups had taken to the streets demanding arrest of the Christian boy.