"We have sent our boys to take control of the church building and lock it," Gyan told TOI over phone from Mumbai. "I was told that there was no harm done to the church, and the 'shuddhi karan (purification ceremony)' took place a km away from the church building."
In Aligarh, meanwhile, Christians said they feared more such takeovers of their churches. "Seeing that the district administration has done little to protect the church in Asroi village, which was turned into a temple, we fear for the safety of our other properties," a Christian teacher in Aligarh, requesting anonymity, said.
Christians in other parts of Uttar Pradesh joined in the protest and said they would send delegations to the UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Vincent Joel, treasurer of Christian organization Rashtriya Isai Maha Sabha, said, "This is slow poisoning. This kind of act can create larger problems. We call it communalism. Leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav present themselves as secular. Have they nothing to say about this? I smell in this preparations for the 2017 state assembly elections."
Nikhil Jatin Kumar, who leads the youth wing of the same organization, said, "If the state government were sensitive to our sentiments, it would have sent representatives to repair the damage done by communal elements. This would then have been a case between the communal elements and the government. But it is clearly not that. We are not going into action-reaction mode, and will not take recourse to arson. Our pastors and priests will assemble in Aligarh and a course of action will be planned."
Christians of Aligarh have prepared a memorandum to be presented to the district administration, too, asking for support in this matter. They have also asked the head of the Seventh Day Adventist Church to meet them in Aligarh, and visit the minority commission in Delhi.
But while the Christians have reacted with hurt and outrage at the conversion of the church into a temple, members of the Dharam Jagran Vivad, Aligarh, who conducted the re-conversion ceremony of the Valmikis, said nothing will stop them from having a temple in the area.
"We have found a place near the chabootra (verandah). That is where we will set up the temple. I don't have anything to say for the church. We have done the shuddhi karan in the building, whether they want to uproot the church or raze it to the ground is their headache. We will not let another church come up because there is no Christian left," said the pramukh of the Dharam Jagran Vivad, Rajeshwar Singh, who had arrived in Aligarh from Uttarakhand for the re-conversion.
Khem Chandra, a local member of the Vivad group, added, "We will think about the church building. It belongs to the missionaries, but the ground on which it stands belongs to Hindustan. We will not compromise on our dharti (earth). We will meet the villagers and decide about the temple (coming up)."
A local policeman, wishing not to be named, said, "No FIR has been filed. People appear to have willingly embraced a certain religion. There is little for the police to do in such a situation."