February 21, 2010
The Christian community in Batala and its adjoining area (District Gurdaspur) of Punjab is facing serious threat to life and property from the Hindu Extremists outfit (Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena). The communal tension suddenly erupted yesterday (20-02-2010), was the outcome of highly objectionable portrait of Christ that was displayed on Ram Naumi Hoarding in Jalandhar. A Protest call was immediately given by the Christian Community of Punjab. In most of the places the protest was peaceful but in Batala Town of District Gurdaspur the situation took turn for the worst, when some youth demanded the downing of the shutters in Hindu dominated market. Resistance on the part of these shopkeepers led to clashes between the two communities. The violence gradually spread to the entire city when Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena came out on the roads with weapons and indulged in arson, looting and violence. Two Churches (Church of North in India, and Salvation Army Church) were completely vandalized and the priests in charge of these churches were brutally thrashed and their houses were also ransacked. The local police remained a mute spectator when the churches were being destroyed.
Shockingly, the miscreants who vandalized the Churches and indulged in arson were left scot free while several Church priests and prominent Christian leaders and other laymen were rounded up and detained in the police station. Some of them were released and others are still in police custody. The police are still rounding up the members of Christian Communities on the behest of local BJP MLA. The local administration has clamped the curfew but the situation still remains highly volatile and explosive. On the other hand the miscreants who are not yet nabbed by the police but roaming free, are abetting communal hatred and threatening to destroy the peace and harmony of the city and state.
If these divisive forces are not brought to book immediately then the fabric of the entire state will be destroyed. We request your prayers for the peace and protection of Christians in Punjab.
Aroon Kumar Dass
Bishop’s Commissary’s Associate
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India
Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations