117-yr-old church kept locked on Christmas

LudhianaPolice personnel outside the church after the clash between the two groups. Gurmeet Singh

Christmas celebrations turned sour at the 117-year-old Christ Church in Fountain Chowk area as the main hall remained closed on Wednesday. Two fighting groups had erected separate tents in the premises of the church and held their prayers meetings there. The main hall was closed for the first time as never before has it happened that prayer meetings were held outside it.

The tussle between the two groups is going on for the past nine months, which continued even on the day of Christmas. Sources said that the two groups are claiming the right to managing the affairs of the church and that the matter is pending in the court. Following the tussle, local police and the district administration had ordered to lock the building till the court orders.

Police Commisisioner Nirmal Singh Dhillon said "the tussle has been going on for many months and both groups pray in the church premises separately. We provide police security as precautionary measure on special occasions". He also said the status quo to lock the main prayer hall of the church will continue till further orders from court.

Meanwhile, Reverend Pankaj Anand Malik, who is the priest in-charge of the church and also the overall in-charge of the church cemetery, said, "A land mafia group is raising false allegations to claim the management of the church affairs. Earlier, they wanted to sell the graveyard land and it was stopped with great difficulty. Now they are eying the prime land of the church."

Daniel Das, member from the other group, however, said, "The priest is not ready to give up the management affairs, though our church association in London has processed the changes. He has locked the church and keeps the keys with him. In fact, he is the one who wants to grab the land and is raising false allegations on us."

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