Four masked men vandalize a church in Punjab, set car on fire

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: A group of four masked persons forcefully entered a church in a village in the Tarn Taran district of Punjab on Tuesday night and vandalized a Pieta statue. They set the car of the church on fire.

Police sources said that a group of four masked people entered the three-storyed church in Thakarpur village of Patti assembly constituency of Tarn Taran district yesterday around 12.30 AM and forcefully held the security guard captive at gunpoint. Then they climbed to the top floor of the church and allegedly broke the statues of Mother Mary and Jesus Christ and took away their heads. They also set a car parked on the church premises on fire before they left.

Father Thomas Poochalil, parish priest, Infant Jesus Catholic Church, Thakarpura village, associated with Jalandhar diocese said unidentified men after taking the security guards hostage at gun-point, vandalized the Pieta statue located in front of the church and set on fire a car parked there. The car belonged to a church administrator. They were raising the slogan “We are Khalistanis,’’ he said.

The incident sparked tension in the area as members of the Christian community gathered at the church in large numbers and staged a dharna on the Khemkaran road demanding to arrest the miscreants.

“Anti-social elements vandalized the statue of Jesus and set ablaze a car at a church. We are investigating the matter and have vital clues. The culprits will be arrested soon, there were four people. A case has been registered,’’ said RS Dhillon, Senior Superintendent of Police of Tarn Taran.

This attack on the church is being seen as a repercussion of this statement made by the akal takht jathedar high priest Giani Harpreet Singh as in a statement on social media yesterday Singh said,“ So-called Christian missionaries have been forcibly converting Sikhs through fraudulent practices. Both sikhs and Hindus of Punjab are being misled and converted. All this is happening right under the government’s nose. Though there are provisions in the law to book for superstitious practices in the name of religion, no government is ready to act against them (missionaries) due to vote bank politics.’’

Appealing to the central government to control these conversation immediately Singh said, “Punjab is a border state and we know that foreign funding is coming here to run these religious campaigns.’’

Also, other Sikh leaders have been vocal against alleged conversion attempts by Christian missionaries in the state.

Condemning vandalization at  the chruch, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has ordered an investigation and strict against the culprits. “No one will be allowed to break the brotherhood of Punjab..Tarn Taran incident is very unfortunate..Investigate it and strict action against the culprits,’’ he tweeted.

While two days ago a group of Nihangs and their supporters disrupted an event organised by Christian missionaries at Daduana village in  Amritsar district. The Nihang have also protested against the issue recently.  Interestingly the Akal Takht, backing the Nihangs as Singh had announced support for Nihang leader Baba Major Singh and 150 of his supporters who were booked under Sections 295, 296, 427, 148 and 149 of IPC at Jandiala Guru police station on Monday on the complaint of Christian pastor Raja. They want that a case should be registered against these `fake pastors’ under the Black Magic Act.

CHANDIGARH: A group of four masked persons forcefully entered a church in a village in the Tarn Taran district of Punjab on Tuesday night and vandalized a Pieta statue. They set the car of the church on fire.

Police sources said that a group of four masked people entered the three-storyed church in Thakarpur village of Patti assembly constituency of Tarn Taran district yesterday around 12.30 AM and forcefully held the security guard captive at gunpoint. Then they climbed to the top floor of the church and allegedly broke the statues of Mother Mary and Jesus Christ and took away their heads. They also set a car parked on the church premises on fire before they left.

Father Thomas Poochalil, parish priest, Infant Jesus Catholic Church, Thakarpura village, associated with Jalandhar diocese said unidentified men after taking the security guards hostage at gun-point, vandalized the Pieta statue located in front of the church and set on fire a car parked there. The car belonged to a church administrator. They were raising the slogan “We are Khalistanis,’’ he said.

The incident sparked tension in the area as members of the Christian community gathered at the church in large numbers and staged a dharna on the Khemkaran road demanding to arrest the miscreants.

“Anti-social elements vandalized the statue of Jesus and set ablaze a car at a church. We are investigating the matter and have vital clues. The culprits will be arrested soon, there were four people. A case has been registered,’’ said RS Dhillon, Senior Superintendent of Police of Tarn Taran.

This attack on the church is being seen as a repercussion of this statement made by the akal takht jathedar high priest Giani Harpreet Singh as in a statement on social media yesterday Singh said,“ So-called Christian missionaries have been forcibly converting Sikhs through fraudulent practices. Both sikhs and Hindus of Punjab are being misled and converted. All this is happening right under the government’s nose. Though there are provisions in the law to book for superstitious practices in the name of religion, no government is ready to act against them (missionaries) due to vote bank politics.’’

Appealing to the central government to control these conversation immediately Singh said, “Punjab is a border state and we know that foreign funding is coming here to run these religious campaigns.’’

Also, other Sikh leaders have been vocal against alleged conversion attempts by Christian missionaries in the state.

Condemning vandalization at  the chruch, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has ordered an investigation and strict against the culprits. “No one will be allowed to break the brotherhood of Punjab..Tarn Taran incident is very unfortunate..Investigate it and strict action against the culprits,’’ he tweeted.

While two days ago a group of Nihangs and their supporters disrupted an event organised by Christian missionaries at Daduana village in  Amritsar district. The Nihang have also protested against the issue recently.  Interestingly the Akal Takht, backing the Nihangs as Singh had announced support for Nihang leader Baba Major Singh and 150 of his supporters who were booked under Sections 295, 296, 427, 148 and 149 of IPC at Jandiala Guru police station on Monday on the complaint of Christian pastor Raja. They want that a case should be registered against these `fake pastors’ under the Black Magic Act.