Friday, April 20, 2007

Church converted to Sikh temple in Punjab

Bajrang Dal activists converted a Christian church into a gurudwara in Lehragaga of Sangrur district of Punjab on April 10, 2007. Later Sikh leaders came to the rescue of the Christians.

Sources told the All India Christian Council (aicc) that Pastor Malok Singh from Lehragaga was falsely accused of rape by Bajrang Dal activists. He was arrested under 109 section of the India Penal Code (IPC) on April 10, 2007 and remained in jail until he was bailed after 9 days.

In connection with the allegation against Pastor Singh, Bajrang Dal activists numbering over 100 came and attacked the church. Aicc was told that church furniture was broken and musical instruments were stolen, A Granth Sahib (Sikh religious scripture) was placed inside the church, holy reading of Granth Sahib was conducted, and church signboard was changed into Gurudwara Sahib.

It has also been reported that Bibles were torn inside the church and large number of Christian literature was taken by two lorries to undisclosed place and reportedly burned.

A source said that Sikh leaders along with police personnel restored the church by removing the Granth Sahib placed inside the church.

Church members have filed a complaint against the Bajrang Dal activists at Lehragaga Police Station for provoking enmity among two religions of Christianity and Sikhism. The complaint against the culprits was lodged under the IPC sections 295, 452, 447, 506, 148, and 149 on April 11, 2007.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Mr. Balraj Singh reported to the aicc that the District Magistrate has set up an enquiry commission under the leadership of Sunam Sub-Divisional Magistrate to submit a report within two weeks.

No arrests of Bajrang Dal activists have been reported, while pastor Singh was arrested within short time of the complaint against him.

Pastor Singh reported to the aicc that he was severely beaten up in the police station and forced him to accept the allegation against him. He said that a girl was brought by Bajrang Dal activists to his house and then Bajrang Dal activists locked the door from the outside and accused him of rape.

According to a source, Bajrang Dal had a meeting at Lehragaga on April 18, 2007 and submitted a memorandum to the District Magistrate to sack the District Superintendent of Police for performing his assigned duty to protect the Christian minorities.

Rashtriya Swayamseva Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party activists have been telling Sikh communities the false allegation that Christians are forcefully converting Sikh communities into Christianity. Hindutva leaders have called for an anti-conversion law in the state of Punjab.

Press Release by Rev. Madhu Chandra of AICC