Hours after Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh backed nihangs for opposing the alleged forced conversion to Christianity, four men barged into a church at 12.30am and held the guard captive at gunpoint before vandalising Mother Mary and Jesus Christ’s statues.
Two days after a group of nihangs and their supporters disrupted an event organised by Christian missionaries at Daduana village in Punjab’s border district of Amritsar, unidentified persons vandalised 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 12.30am 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.
Withdraw cases against nihangs: Giani Harpreet
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 cancelled 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 cancel the case against the nihangs immediately 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.
The Akal Takht acting jathedar called for countering the massive conversion of the Sikhs and asked Sikh organisations to gear up for this.
The car that the miscreants set ablaze before fleeing from the church early on Wednesday. (HT Photo)
Fraudulent means being used: says Jathedar
Soon after the incident, which was recorded on closed-circuit cameras, Tarn Taran senior superintendent of police Ranjit Singh Dhillon along with senior officials reached the spot and started 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 are converting Sikhs into Christianity with fraudulent means and superstitious beliefs.
On the other hand, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee on Tuesday organised 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 organisations have condemned the vandalisation of the church.