Aizawl: A peculiar religious group in eastern Mizoram known as the ‘Deleted Church’ is faced with a stern warning from Mizoram State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR): Send your children to school or risk having them taken away.
MSCPCR chairperson Dr C Lalsangzuala’s message to the sect’s leaders was clear – adhere to the tenets of section 13(1)(j) of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, along with the MSCPCR Rules, 2017, or brace for the unthinkable – the Commission’s intervention to separate the children from their religious fold.
The drama escalated when the Commission summoned the sect’s leaders to appear for a show cause hearing, an encounter that transpired on August 9. It was during this meeting that a chilling admonition was handed down.
The heart of the matter lies in the sect’s unusual practices. The church members, intriguingly nicknamed the ‘Deleted Church’, have adopted a stance that seems pulled from the fringes of reality. Reportedly, they instruct their children to forgo the conventional path of education, locking them away from the halls of learning. This, according to the chairperson, is an affront to the children’s basic rights.
The most peculiar of all claims is that the leaders of this enigmatic church have been “divinely instructed” not to educate their offspring. A baffling twist comes with the assertion that they are not Indian citizens, hence they are beyond the reach of Indian laws. Dr. Lalsangzuala swiftly deflated this notion, reminding them that lack of official documentation doesn’t place them above the law.
The sect members are mainly concentrated near a place in Mizoram-Myanmar border Zotlang village in Champhai district and there are an estimated 25 members below the age of 18 amongst the members of the church.
The sect’s doctrine of deletion extends beyond just names; they shun government records, associations, and even their own community’s records. Their quest for detachment is startling – they seek to sever connections with the world and its trappings. This includes a complete ban on attending schools, enrolling in educational institutions, or engaging with any government and private systems.
Remarkably, they reject identifications like Aadhaar cards, driving licenses, and electoral photo identity cards. The act of blending into society is anathema to them, extending to ration cards, enrollment in electoral rolls, and even availing cooking gas cylinders. The very concept of welfare schemes and healthcare benefits is anathematized within the church’s fold.
Strangely, they disavow a specific name for their sect. The moniker ‘Deleted Church’ has been bestowed upon them by the village of Zotlang, encapsulating their obsession with erasure from the government’s records.
With an estimated membership ranging from 80 to 100 individuals, this congregation of mystery seekers resides together under one roof, etching an enigmatic chapter in the annals of religious curiosity.