Four unidentified men allegedly broke into a church and desecrated statues of Jesus Christ and Mary in Tarn Taran district of Punjab, police said on Wednesday, adding that Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had ordered an investigation into the incident. “highly condemnable” incident.
The incident comes two days after a group of nihangs and their followers disrupted an event organized by Christian missionaries in the village of Daduana in the border district of Amritsar.
According to the Tarn Taran police, four armed men broke into the Catholic church in the village of Thakkarpura near the town of Patti on Tuesday evening. The intruders pointed a gun to the security guard’s head and tied his hands in the incident which took place around 12.30am and was caught on CCTV cameras installed at the church.
They desecrated the statues of Jesus Christ and Mary, located at the front of the church, with an ax and escaped with their heads, according to a senior officer at Sadar police station, Patti, where a case was registered on the basis of the complaint of the ecclesiastical authority.
“CCTV footage showed two of the masked men vandalizing the idols,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They also set fire to a car parked in the church premises while fleeing.”
Father Thomas P, the church priest, told police the vandalizers remained inside the church campus for about 25 minutes.
Shortly after the incident, a police team led by Tarn Taran Chief Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ranjit Singh Dhillon, arrived at the scene. A large number of police have been deployed in the area.
“It is a conspiracy of some malevolent elements who wanted to disturb the peace in the state,” the SSP told reporters. “We have taken stock of the situation and are investigating the matter. We will soon catch those behind this incident.
A case was filed under Sections 295A (willful and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 452 (intrusion into the home), 427 (mischief causing damage) and 34 (acts committed by several persons in pursuit of ‘a common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and relevant sections of the Arms Act, said Sukhbir Singh, Police Station Officer (Patti Police Station).
Condemning the incident, Chief Minister Mann said he had ordered the Director General of State Police (DGP) to investigate the “unforgivable incident”.
“This is a highly condemnable incident and the strongest measures must be taken against the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” he said in a statement. “This incident is the work of forces hostile to the peace, prosperity and progress of the state. This unfortunate tragedy aims to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the state and derail communal harmony and brotherhood in Punjab.
The incident sparked tensions in the area with a group of people from the Christian community who staged a protest on Wednesday, blocking a road near the church which adjoins a Christian school and demanding the perpetrators’ immediate arrest. Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias, Apostolic Administrator of Jalandhar Diocese, also visited the church and led the protest.
SSP Dhillon and IG (Ferozepur range) PK Yadav assured members of the Christian community that the culprits would be caught soon after, after which the protest was called off around 3pm.
The incident comes a day after Akal Takht’s acting jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh, announced his support for nihang leader Baba Major Singh and nearly 150 of his followers, who were convicted of outraging religious sentiments. , among other charges, at the Jandiala Guru police station on Monday on the complaint. of the local Christian pastor named Raja.
The acting jathedar said the Punjab government should immediately quash the case against the nihangs as the Sikh community stood with them. He added that families of Sikhs and Hindus from scheduled castes and backward classes are targeted in the border belt.
Nihangs are Sikhs who strictly follow the Khalsa code of conduct.
Giani Harpreet Singh said the law does not allow forced religious conversion, but a large-scale campaign is underway in the Punjab border area. He urged the Center to intervene and end this practice.
On Sunday, the nihangs disrupted the Christian event by alleging that Christian missionaries are converting Sikhs to Christianity through fraudulent means and superstitious beliefs.