Guwahati, Apr 18: Asom government today finally declared that the 162-year-old Baptist Church here will not be disturbed for the construction of the proposed multi-storeyed parking lot in the heart of the city.
This statement has finally brought the long-standing controversy over the city development authority's move to vacate the heritage Church to an end.
In the statement issued here, the state government candidly stated that there was no such move to covert the 162-year-old Baptist Church into a parking lot.
The Council of Baptist Churches in North East India(CBCNEI) earlier told the media that a notice was served by the government in mid-February stating that the Kamrup(Metro) district administration and the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority(GMDA) have identified some vacant locations in the CBCNEI compound and requested the Council to hand over the entire plot to the development authority for the proposed car parking.
The CBCNEI said the notice stated that the government promised to make alternative arrangements for shifting the existing building and the GMDA would pay for the cost of alternative arrangement.
The issue was gradually snow-balling into a major controversy with opposition parties, including the BJP, regional Asom Gana Parishad and Asom Gana Parishad(Pragatisheel) demanding withdrawal of the government move to vacate the heritage Church complex.
The entire Christian community in the Northeast had reacted very strongly against the move.
The Baptist Church's Asom connection dates back to early part of the 19th century. It was instrumental in safeguarding the interests of the Assamese language that was on the verge of extinction when the then British rulers had imposed Bengali as the official language in the state.
The American Baptist Mission, which arrived in the then undivided Asom in 1836 is credited with the launch of the first Assamese newspaper 'Orunodoi' in January 1846.