Three men, identified by the media as Sikhs, were arrested by police in India on charges of vandalizing a Christian place of worship in the area of Vikaspuri. The attack occured on January 14 at Our Lady of Grace parish. Speaking for the Catholic Archdiocese of Delhi, Fr. Savarimuthu Sankar expressed surprise that the vandals belong to the Sikh faith.
The trio was identified as: Narender Singh, 33; Michel Pal Singh Gill, 25; Harpreet Singh Dhanjal, 28.
The three Sikhs broke a window and entered the church. While surveillance cameras recorded them, they broke religious statues and damage church vestments.
According to Deputy Commissioner of the Police Pushpendra Kumar, the three men were drunk at the time. He said that the vandalism "was the result of a stupid bet between the three". All three of the men are unemployed. The church they vandalized is located in a largely Sikh neighborhood.
"On the one hand we are pleased with the results of the investigation, but what is most surprising is that the three are Sikhs", said Fr Sankar. "In fact, the Sikhs, have good relationships with Christians, there is great respect and friendship, and often the two communities, support, and defend each other", he recalls. "The Sikh leaders have come to us to express solidarity and support after the episode of vandalism".
However, political motivations for the attack have not been discarded. "With the approach of local elections in Delhi, on 7 February, there may be groups who want to create polarization and disharmony among religious communities. They may have commissioned and paid the three young unemployed for such an attack. We do not want to fall into a trap of this kind. I will ask the Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto to contact the Sikh leaders, with whom we have excellent relations, to issue a joint statement and reiterate the common desire to build and live in peace and harmony", said Fr. Sankar.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.