Negative references to the life of Christ and his family in a book by a Sikh author have drawn protests from the tiny Christian community in the state of Punjab in northern India.

Christians staged a protest dharna (sit-in) in Amritsar—the holiest city for Sikhs—near the border with Pakistan on 19 May. The protesters demanded that the state government arrest the author, Satnam Singh, within 15 days and confiscate all copies of the book, Guru Nanak Dev Ji Jeevan Ate Mukti Marg (Life and Liberation Path of Guru Nanak).

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism, the majority religion in Punjab. Less than one percent of the state's 23 million residents are Christian.

Vidya Sagar, a Church of North India pastor based in Ludhiana in Punjab, said "Christians in Punjab consider this book to be an attempt not only to hurt the sentiments of the Christian community but also to disturb the centuries-old harmonious coexistence of the Sikhs and the Christians."

"We want the government to initiate a high-level inquiry to find out the instigating forces behind this scandal before it is too late."

Following the Christian protests, the book's author, a lawyer about 70 years old, was arrested on May 19 and released on bail on May 22 after being charged on three criminal counts, including use of "derogatory language" against a religious community and "disturbing communal harmony." The case will come before the court later this month.

But this has not satisfied Christian leaders.

Though the book's front cover shows a portrait of Guru Nanak, and the book itself deals mainly with Sikh religious beliefs, it also contains what a Church of North India bishop described as "highly objectionable and derogatory language about Jesus Christ and the whole Christian ...

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