By Stefan J. Bos, Special Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - Suspected Hindu nationalists hacked to death a Christian teenage boy in eastern India amid efforts to eradicate devoted Christians from the area, Worthy News learned Wednesday.
Samaru Madkami, 14, was murdered in the village of Kenduguda in the Malkangiri District of India's volatile Odhisa state, according to a local police report and rights activists. So far, four people were detained over the June 4 killing, Christians said.
The troubles began after Samaru was reportedly picked up from his house around 11 pm local time by men who took him to a jungle, four kilometers (2.5 miles) outside his home.
"Samara's hacked body parts were later found buried in the ground by police. They were taken to the scene by the alleged perpetrators who were being investigated," added advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide which looked into the incident. CSW quoted local sources as saying that Samaru was "martyred for his faith" in Christ "as his murder was carried out by Hindu nationalists."
They had been targeting him and other Christian families in their village, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
"The perpetrators had later returned to Samaru's home to kidnap his cousin, Onga, and his wife, but they managed to escape," CSW explained in a statement to Worthy News.
"Our deepest prayers and condolences go out to Samara's father, Unga Madkami, for the loss of his son," stressed
CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas. "Samaru was martyred for his faith," he told Worthy News.
In separate remarks, John Dayal, a civil rights activist and writer in India called it "the most heinous and gruesome case of anti-Christian violence that has come to light in the enforced silence of the coronavirus lockdown."
He said in a statement distributed by CSW that it was among an "unending series of various degrees of violence against the Christian community" in several Indian states. Dayal accused "local politicians and a section of media" of "trying to erase or at least underplay the abduction and lynching of the young believer."
Samaru was cared for by his father after losing his mother when he was around six years old, Christians said. Madkami's village was previously home to thirteen Christian families. Four families remained, but they have since the killing relocated to a safer place, according to local Christians.
Christians in the village have been pressured to abandon their faith in Christ by local Hindu nationalists for several years, rights investigators claimed. Pastor Bijay Pusuru, who leads the region's Bethel House Church that Madkami attended, reported that four harassment complaints were made at the Malkangiri police station this year alone.
"We are deeply concerned by the intolerance and violence towards Christians that continues to fester in Odhisa," Thomas said. He noted that the violence comes "despite lessons from the savage attacks against Christians in the Kandhamal [area of the state] which took place 12 years ago."
Thomas warned there was "clearly a systematic plan to wipe out the Christian community in these areas." CSW, he said, has urged the state government "to identify the sources of hate and crimes against minorities and to hold those responsible to account."
However, Dayal cautioned that India's national authorities must intervene. "The case must be investigated by the National Investigating Agency. The state police and administration have lost the trust of the people."
The state of Odhisa saw some of the most brutal killings carried out against the Christian community in India's recent history. In 1999 Australian missionary Graham Staines, who provided care for leprosy patients, was burnt to death with his sons Philip (10) and Timothy (6) while they were asleep in their vehicle in the Manoharpur are of Keonjhar District.
In 2008 attacks against Christians in Kandhamal resulted in nearly 100 deaths, around 56,000 people being displaced, and almost 300 churches and other places of worship destroyed, according to rights activists and other sources.
Christians comprise just over two percent of India's mainly Hindu population of roughly 1.3 billion people, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).