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Uttarakhand Church storming: 2 months passed, no arrests yet

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Uttarakhand Church storming: 2 months passed, no arrests yet
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Dehradun: Two months past the attack on a church in Roorkee, Uttarakhand, allegedly by a mob of 200 members of right-wing Hindutva extremists, no arrests have been made so far despite an FIR has named attackers within hours post the incident, NDTV reports.

The FIR on the attack, which happened on October 3 morning, was lodged by Sadhana Portor, who was running the church, House of Prayer, with her daughters after her husband and pastor of the church, D R Lance died of Covid-19. The church was allegedly attacked in the middle of prayers, injuring many devotees.

Sadhana claimed in the FIR that the attackers were her longtime neighbours, and at least three of them are related to the local BJP. One of those named was Seema Goel, a member of the BJP Mahila Morcha, who was leading the mob, while another named was Sagar Goel of BJP's Yuva Morcha.

While Seema Goel told NDTV that she got stumbled in the chaos and wasn't involved but refused to speak on camera, Sagar Goel wasn't available at his residence to comment on the case. Another man named in the FIR was Dhir Singh, who denied being involved in the violence, but a churchgoer told NDTV that Dhir Singh hit him, snatched his phone and hurled religious slurs at him.

Dhir Singh but said that he is aged 56 and how could someone expect him to be involved in violence. He added that he has a disk problem and is being treated at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi.

When asked about the zero arrests after two months, the investigating officer said that the probe is going on and action will be taken with respect to emerging facts. He refused to comment further.

After more than 24 hours past the storming of the church, an FIR was lodged against Sadhana and some churchgoers by a woman, alleging that she and four others were forcibly converted to Christianity. Sonam claimed that they were offered lakhs of rupees to convert and when refused, they were hit and called with casteist slurs.

Sadhana denied the charges saying that she is a pensioner and does not have that much money to offer people to convert. She added that none of them had ever met anyone named Sonam. NDTV found out that those alleged of being illegally converted have filed multiple complaints, and there were contradictions among their statements.

Since many of the accused are her neighbours, Sadhana and her family were given protection, but she is still scared. Also, she does not want to leave her home, church and the life there, Sadhana told NDTV.

As the state is going for polls in 2022, the alleged illegal religious conversions are one of the issues raised by the ruling BJP, and it had passed an anti-forcible conversion Bill in 2018.

Since last September, the country has been witnessing a wave of attacks on Churches and related establishments by right-wing groups on baseless allegations of forcible conversions, NDTV reported.

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