Church vandalisation: Punjab Police announce 1 lakh reward for information on accused

Updated on Sep 02, 2022 12:53 AM IST

Punjab transport minister and Patti MLA Laljit Singh Bhullar visited the church and met the Christian leaders and assured them that the perpetrators will be brought to book

PK Samantaroy, bishop, diocese of Amritsar, addresses a press conference in Tarn Taran on Thursday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)
PK Samantaroy, bishop, diocese of Amritsar, addresses a press conference in Tarn Taran on Thursday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)
By, Tarn Taran

The Punjab police on Thursday announced a reward of 1 lakh for the information on the four accused, who vandalised a church in Thakarpura village near Patti town of the district.

While speaking over the phone, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ranjit Singh Dhillon said, “We are working it out but so far we have got nothing specific. All the senior police officers of the district are involved in the investigation. The situation is complicated, so, we have announced the reward.” The police also released the CCTV footage of the incident.

Punjab transport minister and Patti MLA Laljit Singh Bhullar visited the church and met the Christian leaders and assured them that the perpetrators will be brought to book.

Meanwhile, under the direction of Emanual Nahar, chairman of the Punjab state minority commission, its member Subhash Thoba also reached the church to take stock of the situation in presence of SSP Ranjit Singh Dhillon. He said exemplary punishment should be awarded to the culprits.

All the schools run by Christian organisations in Punjab remained closed on Thursday to protest against the vandalism.

Four unidentified men had allegedly vandalised the church, desecrating statues of Jesus Christ and Mary in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district on Wednesday.

This was two days after a group of Nihangs and their supporters had disrupted an event organised by Christian missionaries at Daduana village in the border district of Amritsar.

Christian leaders seek action against perpetrators, appeal for peace

Alarmed by the increasing incidence of attacks on churches, Christian gatherings and institutions, the Christian community of Punjab, represented by the heads of the Roman Catholic church, the dioceses of Amritsar and Chandigarh, Church of North India (CNI), the Salvation Army, Methodist Church have united under the banner of ‘Masihi Maha Sabha’ to seek strict action against the perpetrators of these assaults, apt security for the community and raising an appeal to maintain peace and harmony.

The heads of these Christian denominations held a meeting in this regard at Alexandra High School, Amritsar, on Thursday. It was unanimously decided to hold a candlelight prayer service at the respective churches of these denominations to pray for peace and harmony on September 3.

Talking about the incident, Bishop Agnelo Gracias, apostolic administrator, diocese of Jalandhar, said that he visited the spot to take stock of the situation. “We have always created an atmosphere of peace in those areas, at the same time we criticize the vandalism of our parish,” he said. Reverend Denzel Peoples, Bishop, diocese of Chandigarh, urged the masses to maintain peace and harmony. “The church needs to take measures to ensure the unity of the Christian community,” he said.

PK Samantaroy, bishop, diocese of Amritsar who is also the president of the ‘Masihi Maha Sabha’, said that the Christian community in Punjab condemns these attacks. “These attacks are a clear violation of this constitutional right of the Christians, which we strongly condemn. We urge people not to take the law into their hands,” he said.

Bishop Samantaroy also criticised the attack and said that any divisive voice is dangerous and should be dealt with an iron hand.

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