The under-construction church in Hisar, Haryana which was attacked on Sunday. (ANI Photo)
Police said 14 people were booked for rioting, damaging a place of worship, theft and promoting enmity following a complaint from the church priest in Kaimri village in Hisar district, 260km from Chandigarh. However, no arrests have been made so far.
At a time when the security of Christians has led to a raging debate and incidents of church attacks in Delhi have hogged headlines, miscreants on Sunday vandalised the church and replaced the cross with an idol of Hanuman.
Some media reports said villagers alleged the priest was trying to construct the church despite the fact that there was no Christian in the entire village. Reports also said villagers were angry over the priest's alleged efforts to convert some of the residents.
There are allegations that the priest had bought the piece of land for building a house but started constructing a church instead.
"I was threatened by Bajrang Dal activists and other locals last month," Father Subhash Chand said.
Chand, priest of the Williwarsh Church in the village, alleged that the accused threatened him with dire consequences if he proceeded with the construction.
He said the accused fragmented the cross and installed the statue of Hanuman and a flag depicting Lord Ram. Chand also alleged that the miscreants stole a cooler and some items.
Christian Front, Haryana, condemned the incident and has demanded immediate arrest of the accused, all believed to be residents of Kaimri.
The Haryana attack came against the backdrop of Prime Minister's Narendra Modi's assurance of ensuring religious freedom, in the wake of attacks on churches in the national capital.
Commenting on the Kaimri incident, Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) Nalin Kohli said, "Any religious place of worship cannot be treated as an object that people can use to take out their frustration."
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