ASIA/INDIA – A vandalized Catholic church in Punjab
Patti (Agenzia Fides) – A Catholic church was the victim of an attack in the Indian state of Punjab, in the north of the country. A statue of the Virgin Mary was damaged and a priest’s vehicle was set on fire in Patti.
According to Father Thomas Poochalil, Parish Priest, the attack happened in the early hours of August 31, 2022, shortly after midnight in the compound of the Catholic Church of the Infant Jesus, in Jalandhar Diocese. A mob of unidentified assailants hit the statue of Pietà in front of the church and set fire to a car in the complex. They chanted chanting slogans like “we are Khalistani”. The Khalistan Movement is a Sikh separatist movement that seeks to create a homeland for Sikhs by establishing a sovereign state, called “Khalistan” in the Punjab region.
“The police have been informed and the investigation is ongoing. We ask for support and prayers at this time of pain for all of us who will remain at the compound,” the father said. Poochalil. “We ask for the intercession of our protector, Our Lady Queen of Peace, so that peace and tranquility reign and that the culprits are brought to justice as soon as possible,” he adds.
In recent years, there have been different episodes of violence against churches and church personnel, such as priests, nuns, pastors and Christians from different churches in various states of India. However, the federal government denies that there is specific violence against Christians. The United Christian Forum (UCF), a think tank made up of Christians of various faiths, documented 127 cases of violence against Christians in the first 103 days of 2022 in India, while in 2021, 486 cases of attacks have been documented. In India, 2.3% of the approximately 1.4 billion inhabitants are Christians. (SD/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 08/31/2022)