Tarn Taran, Sept 3: Two days after a group of Nihangs and their supporters disrupted an event organized by Christian missionaries at Daduana village in Punjab’s border district of Amritsar, unidentified persons vandalized a church at Thakkarpura village in the adjoining district of Tarn Taran in the wee hours of Wednesday.
Four men barged into the church around 12.30 am and held the security guard captive at gunpoint. They climbed to the top floor of the three-storeyed church building and broke the statues of Mother Mary and Jesus Christ, and made off with their heads. They also set a car parked on the church premises on fire while fleeing.
The incident, which sparked off tension in the area with members of the Christian community gathering at the church in large numbers, comes a day after Akal Takht acting Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh announced support for Nihang leader Baba Major Singh and nearly 150 of his supporters, who were booked under Sections 295, 296, 427, 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code at Jandiala Guru police station on Monday on the complaint of local Christian leader pastor Raja. Giani Harpreet Singh demanded that the case against them should be canceled as they were only opposing forced religious conversion. He said the law does not permit forcible religious conversion but it’s surprising how a large-scale campaign is being run in the border area of Punjab. He urged the Centre to intervene and stop this practice.
He said the Punjab government should immediately cancel the case against the Nihangs as the Sikh community stood with them. “We have convened a meeting at Sri Anandpur Sahib on September 5, and a resolution will be passed after a discussion on this issue.” He said families of Sikhs and Hindus from Scheduled Castes and backward classes are being targeted in the border belt. Soon after the incident, which was recorded on closed-circuit cameras, Tarn Taran senior superintendent of police Ranjit Singh Dhillon and senior officials reached the spot and started an investigation.
Enraged, members of the Christian community gathered at the church in large numbers. On Sunday, the Nihangs disrupted the Christian event alleging that the Christian missionaries were converting Sikhs into Christianity with fraudulent means and superstitious beliefs.
On the other hand, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee on Tuesday organized a press conference in Amritsar with 12 families, which, according to its functionaries, were lured to join Christianity by so-called Christian pastors and have now returned to the fold of Sikhism. Leaders of Sikh organizations have condemned the vandalization of the church.