A mob comprised of men dressed in the traditional attire of a Sikh warrior order stormed into a church, causing significant property damage and injuring numerous church members in Punjab.
The assailants, who bore the distinct Nihang attire — blue robes, swords and spears — interrupted a peaceful gathering at the Sukhpal Rana Ministries Church in Rajewal village near Amritsar city in the Sikh-majority state, the U.K.-based group Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.
They brandished sticks, tore Bibles, vandalized vehicles parked outside and attacked the congregants, the group said, adding that following the initial assault, the situation escalated into a volatile confrontation, with both parties hurling stones.
It required intervention from the police to bring the hostile situation under control.
In response to the violent incident, the Christian community of Rajewal village protested, seeking justice and promising retaliation if immediate action wasn’t taken. They reportedly demanded charges of blasphemy against the attackers.
A member of the Punjab Minority Commission reportedly visited the village to assess the situation, although subsequent action remains uncertain.
The local police, including the police superintendent, visited the protest site and assured the congregation that a formal complaint had been filed and prompt action would be taken.
The police have yet to confirm whether the assailants belong to the Nihang sect, who have subsequently denied any involvement.
Last August, the Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Punjab was vandalized by four masked men claimed to be Nihangs, who also torched a priest’s car.
The Nihangs have criticized evangelism in the state and accused Christians of “forced” conversions.
CSW Founder and President Mervyn Thomas called the attack “yet another incident in a worrying trend of targeted attacks on religious minorities across the country.”
“Often such incidents are not just a one-off occurrence, but the result of deep-seated polarization that has been allowed to fester for years,” Thomas said. “The narrative playing out in India, where members of minority religious communities are demonized, has far-reaching implications.”
Thomas called on the authorities to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators without delay.
Courtesy of The Christian Post.