Demanding arrest of the culprits behind the pastor’s murder, the victim’s family and members of the Christian Federation of Ludhiana staged a sit-in protest at the Jalandhar bypass on NH-1 Sunday. Protesters, who sat on a dharna along with the victim’s body, refused to relent for over four hours. The four-hour protest hit traffic on the busy highway, forcing diversions.
In between, the situation almost turned tense as protesters allegedly became rowdy forcing the police to ready themselves for a lathi-charge. However, Congress MLAs Bharat Bhushan Aashu, Surinder Dawar, Kuldeep Vaid and Sunjay Talwar reached the spot in time to pacify the protesters.
Dawar said,”Christian community on the whole supports Congress party and we have assured them of complete justice. This was a work of anti-social elements to disturb peace in Punjab and we will not let it happen at any cost.”
The dharna was finally lifted after Police Commissioner R N Dhoke asked the protesters to make a 11-member committee to present their case before the police. Pastor Dr K Koshy, president of Council of Ludhiana Churches said, “We have sought extra security outside all churches of Ludhiana as the incident has disturbed us a lot. Pastor died of three bullet injuries. His dead body will be cremated tomorrow…” Koshi added that the postmortem will be done on Monday morning.
Interestingly, although four Congress MLAs reached the spot to pacify the protesters, Congress MLA from the area, Rakesh Pandey, was missing from the scene. He did not visit the family till the filing this report. Christian community members from the area said they were upset because of this. Pandey, however, was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.
Later in the evening, Punjab government announced a government job for a member of the pastor’s family and also Rs 5 lakh compensation to his next of kin.