Masked men vandalise church in Punjab's Tarn Taran, CM Mann orders probe

The intruders pointed a pistol at the watchman's head and tied his hands in the Tuesday night incident that was caught on CCTV cameras installed at the church

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PTI

Four masked men broke into a church in Punjab's Tarn Taran district, vandalised it and fled after setting the pastor's car on fire, police said on Wednesday.

The intruders pointed a pistol at the watchman's head and tied his hands in the Tuesday night incident that was caught on CCTV cameras installed at the church.

The intruders then vandalised two idols in the church, located in Takkarpura village near Patti town in the border district. As they left, they set the pastor's car on fire.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann condemned the vandalism and has ordered a probe.

This is a highly condemnable incident and severest action must be taken against the perpetrators of this heinous crime, he said on Wednesday. Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring said such incidents are deliberate attempts by some mischievous elements to divide people.

Police said the CCTV footage showed two of the masked men vandalising the idols.

A police team led by Tarn Taran's Senior Superintendent of Police Ranjit Singh Dhillon reached the spot. Policemen were deployed in the area in large numbers.

Station House Officer (Patti Sadar) Sukhbir Singh said a case has been registered under sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage reli gious feelings) and 452 (house trespass) of the Indian Penal Code.

A group of people from the Christian community held a protest on Wednesday, blocking roads leading to Khemkaran, Bhikhiwind, Patti, Harike and Ferozepur and demanding the immediate arrest of the perpetrators.

SSP Dhillon assured them that the culprits will be arrested soon.

"It is a conspiracy by some mischievous elements who wanted to disturb the peace in the state," the SSP said.

"We have taken stock of the situation and are investigating the matter. We will soon catch those behind this incident," he added.

Chief Minister Mann said he has directed the state's Director General of Police (DGP) to probe the unpardonable incident .

This incident is a handiwork of the forces inimical to the peace, prosperity and progress of the state, he said.

He said it was aimed at vitiating the peaceful atmosphere in the state and derailing communal harmony and brotherhood .

Mann said the state government will not allow any such attempt to succeed, and assured strict punitive action to deter others from committing similar crimes.

The government will leave no stone unturned to put the perpetrators of this heinous crime behind bars, he said.

The incident comes a day after Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Harjinder Singh Dhami condemned alleged efforts by "some so-called Christian missionaries" to convert people.

They also demanded the withdrawal of an FIR against some Nihang Sikhs who were booked for allegedly disrupting an event organised by Christian missionaries in Amritsar's Daduana village on Monday.

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