Radical Hindu groups burned down Christian church in Punjab

| February 21, 2010

Batala, Gurdaspur: An indefinite curfew is in place in this industrial town of Gurdaspur district when radical Hindu groups burnt down a church after mob torched six motorcycles during a bandh called by Christian organisations to protest the putting up of objectionable posters of Jesus Christ in Jalandhar recently. At least six people were injured and several shops, including Vishal Mega Mart, were looted in Batala, 29 km from Gurdaspur. A post of the Railway Protection Force, the railway station building, a Salvation Church at Dera Baba Nanak and a local school were also ransacked by hooligans.

Trigger to Tension

The Ram Navmi Utsav Committee, a Jalandhar based socio religious body, put up hoardings and posters about a religious procession to be taken out in Jalandhar ont he occasion of Ram Navmi in March. The posters carried photos of deities since it was planned to be a an all religion march. Jesus Christ was shown with a cigarette in his hand. The Christian community in Jalandhar held a protest against the putting up of the posters on Thursday. The Jalandhar police registered a case against unidentified persons for hurting religious sentiments. Tension escalated in toher parts of Punjab. The Christian community called a bandh in different towns of the state on Saturday.

Trouble began at about 10 am when a mob, armed with sharpedged weapons, started a protest march and forced shopkeepers to close down their shops. Though the shopkeepers did shut shop, the mob turned restive and started pelting billboards with stones and set six motorcycles parked in front on fire.

They ransacked and tried to set ablaze two shops on City Road. Some miscreants carrying plastic cans filled with kerosene looted cash at the railway counter and tried to torch the station.

They ransacked the Government Primary School at Krishna Nagar. The mob damaged cars, two-wheelers and a police jeep on G.T. Road. Fanatics of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena arranged a parallel protest march against Christians. A clash ensued with both sides throwing stones at each other. Seeing the growing strength of the radical hindu groups, the mob dispersed.

Now, the mob comprising radical Hindus tried to ransack a church on Dera Baba Nanak road but on seeing the police presence there headed for another church near Nehru Gate and set it ablaze.

Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner Karamjit Singh Sra and Amritsar DIG (Border Range) T.P.S. Sidhu reached the spot and imposed curfew.

POLICE SLOW TO REACT Former Congress MLA Ashwani Sekri said the local police failed to control the situation in time. He appealed to members of both communities to maintain peace. The arson began at 10 am but none of the senior police officials, including SSP Lok Nath Angra and SP (Headquarters) turned up at the spot till 1.30 pm.

Meanwhile, the Jalandhar police have sealed `Bawa Ji Glow Sign’ shop, where the objectionable picture of Jesus Christ was placed on the hoarding.

The shop owner, Raju, is absconding. Police took the car belonging to one Pritpal Singh in possession after a search in the Cantt area. Singh had arranged for the hoarding to be made announcing the procession.

SP (City-I) S.K. Kalia said police teams were conducting raids to arrest the duo. He said police sealed the shop as Raju could not erase the original pictures saved in his computers.



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Category: Church Security

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