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Pastor’s car set ablaze, church idol vandalised in Punjab

The police have said four masked youths entered the church , pointed a pistol at the watchman's head, and tied up his hands before vandalising the church and setting the vehicle on fire. 

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Tarn Taran (Punjab): A group of people in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district allegedly entered a church and vandalised idols of Jesus and Mary. They also set fire to the pastor’s car.

The police have said four masked youths entered the church , pointed a pistol at the watchman’s head, and tied up his hands before vandalising the church and setting the vehicle on fire. 

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CCTV footage from the church shows a person repeatedly hitting the idol with an axe, decapitating it and placing the head on the ground. They also appear to hide behind the statue at one point, presumably trying to avoid detection.

Senior Superintendent of Police R S Dhillon said they have “vital clues” and that four people were behind the act. A First Information Report has been lodged. 

“A few notorious elements tried to vandalise the idol of Jesus and set ablaze a car at church in Patti. We’re investigating the matter and have vital clues. There were four people, we are behind the culprits. We hope to solve it soon,” he said.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has called the incident “unfortunate”, assuring that nobody will be allowed to disturb communal harmony in the state. 

“No one will be allowed to break the brotherhood of Punjab… The Tarn Taran incident is very unfortunate. We will investigate it and strict action will be taken against the culprits.”

A group of Christians on Wednesday held a protest against the incident and blocked all routes leading to Khemkaran, Bhikhiwind, Patti, Harike and Ferozepur. They demanded the immediate arrest of the accused.

The incident comes on a day when the Akal Takht Jathedar, head of the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, issued a statement against “forced conversions” by Christian missionaries. 

“So-called Christian missionaries have been forcibly converting Sikhs through fraudulent practices. Sikhs and Hindus of Punjab are being misled and converted. 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,” Giani Harpreet Singh had said on Tuesday.

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