Hisar church vandalism: 1 held, more arrests soonhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/police-arrest-main-accused-in-haryana-church-vandalisation-case/

Hisar church vandalism: 1 held, more arrests soon

CM Khattar had earlier told reporters here that action will be taken against those who had allegedly vandalised the church.

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An under-construction church in Kaimri village near Hisar was vandalised by a group and the cross replaced with an idol of Hanuman on Sunday, triggering tension in the area.

A fortnight after an under-construction church was allegedly vandalised in Kaimri village in Hisar, the Haryana Police have made the first arrest.

The name of Anil Godra figured in the complaint of Subhash Chand, the priest of Williwarsh Church, registered at the Sadar Police Station in Hisar. According to the complaint, Godra and his accomplices had allegedly barged into the priest’s house and accused him of brainwashing the locals. He had also threatened to kill the priest.

Hisar DIG Saurabh Singh said, “We have arrested the person who allegedly went to the priest’s house with 13 of his associates and threatened him. We are questioning him and more arrests are likely. We have also called the complainaint, who is currently in Ambala, to join the investigation.”

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In his complaint, the priest said he had bought land in Ramnagar area of Kaimri village to construct a church and used to hold prayers at his residence. He alleged that Godra and his associates had barged into his house several times and threatened him.

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“On February 8, while I was having a meeting in my house with the believers, these men barged in and threatened me to return to Ambala. Fearing for my life, I went to Ambala along with my wife. However, when I returned to Hisar, I saw that they had pulled down the cross of Jesus that I had installed on the terrace of the under-construction church, and had replaced it with an idol of Lord Hanuman. They had also put up saffron flags with ‘Sri Ram’ written on them,” the priest said in his complaint. “The cooler and construction equipment were also found to be missing from there.”

Based on the complaint, police had registered an FIR against 14 persons.

According to the police, the land where the church was coming up was bought by the priest two years ago and is registered in the name of Believers Society Church. However, locals said they had no idea that a church was being constructed there.

Raju, a local, said, “The construction has been on for over a year now and we always thought he is constructing a house. We realised it was a church only after we saw the cross installed on the terrace.”

He said around 20-25 people from Hisar used to attend the Sunday mass held by the priest. Only a few from the village used to attend them. “From Kaimiri, only 4-5 people used to go for the mass. The priest never asked anyone to convert to Christianity but always used to say that it is a better religion as it promotes harmony,” Raju said.