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Case filed against attackers of Indian Protestant church

Sikh warrior group storm church brandishing swords, Christians retaliate by pelting them with bricks, stones
Christians protest against increasing attacks on them in New Delhi on Oct. 30, 2019

Christians protest against increasing attacks on them in New Delhi on Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj)

Published: May 24, 2023 09:57 AM GMT
Updated: May 24, 2023 11:47 AM GMT

Police in a northern Indian state have registered a case against a Sikh religious order for allegedly attacking a Protestant church and desecrating the Bible.

The attack occurred at a church in Rajewal, in Amritsar, Punjab state’s second-largest city, during Sunday prayers on May 21 when a group of Nihangs, members of an armed Sikh warrior order, stormed inside, brandishing swords

The Christians said they retaliated by pelting them with bricks and stones, forcing the Nihangs to flee the scene.

Sikhs are allowed to carry swords as part of their religious beliefs. 

A case has been registered with the Amritsar rural police against unknown persons.

After the attack, the Christians organized a march, demanding action against the perpetrators who had objected to Christians using Sikh attire for “propagandist purposes.”

Police official Satinder Singh, who is heading the investigation, assured the Christians a thorough probe would be conducted.

Punjab, ruled by the Aam Admi Party, is a peaceful state. But of late there has been an atmosphere of misunderstanding among the Sikh and Christian communities, resulting in communal tension, Punjab-based Pastor Hanook Bhatti told UCA News on May 23.

“We have been witnessing attacks on churches over the past two years and we have to sit together to solve it as soon as possible before it gets out of hand,” Bhatti warned. 

“There are some who think that we are converting Sikh people to Christianity. It is an allegation which has no truth,” the Christian leader said. 

Pastor Jaspal Singh, also from Punjab, which borders Pakistan, said that it is “deliberately done to create misunderstanding among Christian and Sikh followers” and we are certain that “some vested interest people have done it.”

Arun Pannalal, president of the Christian Forum in Chhattisgarh, a central Indian state which has witnessed large-scale violence against Christians, said, “The [Punjab] state administration seems “unsuccessful in maintaining law and order.” 

Last June, a Sikh head priest called for an end to religious conversions of his community members to Christianity, Bhatti said.

A church was attacked in August last year which was considered a result of an alleged conversion attempt by Christian missionaries in Punjab, where Christians constitute 10 percent of the Sikh-majority state’s 28 million population.

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