An under-construction church was vandalised in Haryana's Hisar district
Hisar: An under-construction church has been vandalized in a Haryana village and a statue of Lord Hanuman placed in it, allegedly by locals, who object both to the building of the church on residential land and the conversions being conducted in the area. Chief Minister ML Khattar has assured that strict action will be taken in the case.
Here are the latest developments:
Satya Narayan, the sarpanch of Hisar's Kaimri village -- located 250 km from Delhi -- said the pastor, Subhash Chand, was trying to "brainwash poor people" and convert them.
The locals said the church was an illegal construction, since the land was meant for residential purposes. They said they came to know that the building was meant to be a church only when they saw the spire being put up.
At a meeting last month, they had tried to dissuade the pastor to discontinue the building, Satya Narayan said. "We don't have a problem if Subhash Chand stays here. But we don't want him to propagate his religion," he added.
Pastor Subhash Chand said some Bajrang Dal activists had threatened him a month ago and they could be behind the attack, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
The pastor has been staying for two years in the village, which, he told NDTV, only has two other Christian families. He started the construction last year, and since February, he was being issued threats by locals, he said.
The church was vandalized on Saturday. The First Information Report in the case says its structure was damaged, the spire removed and a saffron flag and the Hanuman idol were placed inside.
The FIR, based on the complaint of Subhash Chand, names 14 people, including the previous sarpanch, Dalbir Singh. No arrest has been made in the case yet but policemen have been stationed in the village to keep the situation under control.
"This is not a first attack, the attacks are becoming common with this new government," said Ram Gopal Yadav, senior leader of the Samajwadi Party.
There have been several attacks on Christian institutions and churches in Delhi in the last two months and a church in Mangalore in Karnataka was vandalised last month.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured Parliament last month of his government's commitment to religious equality and tolerance, saying "Nobody has the right to discriminate on the basis of religion."