They broke into a parish located 50 kilometers from Amritsar, and perpetrated acts of vandalism and violence. The Nihang sect is targeting Christians for conversions and has declared that it intends to “take action” on the matter. The parish priest of the church, Fr. Poochalil: “Let us pray to the Virgin to bring peace and tranquility to this area.”
Amritsar () – A group of unidentified men today broke into the Catholic Church of the Child Jesus in Patti, an ancient city in the Indian state of Punjab. The subjects destroyed an image of the Virgin Mary that was in the complex and set fire to the parish priest’s car. According to a message from the local priest, Fr. Thomas Poochalil, the incident occurred around 12:45 in the morning. Some of the thugs overpowered the security guards, while others attacked the church shouting “We are Khalistani” (the Sikh independence movement, ndr).
The parish is part of the diocese of Jalandhar. The town where the incident occurred belongs to the Tarn Taran district and is located about 50 km south of Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs. The threats against Catholics have been going on for several days in the nearby town of Jandiala. The nihangs -an old Sikh sect from whose ranks the fighters came- accuse Christians of carrying out conversions in their territory and complain that the Punjab government does not listen to them. Some nihangs were recently arrested for using force to disrupt a Christian celebration in a village, a fact that has further heated the temper. On September 5, a Sikh congregation is convened in Anandpur Sahib, which will pass a resolution against the conversions. “If governments fail to stop them, an action plan will be drawn up,” threatened Giani Harpreet Singh, one of their leaders.
Father Poochalil – pastor of the devastated church – invites everyone to pray to Our Lady Queen of Peace to bring peace and tranquility to this area and to bring the guilty to justice.