India Police Search for Suspected Killers of Pastor

Monday, June 19, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Police in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh searched Monday, June 19, for suspects involved in the killing of a 67-year preacher from the Church of South India, while another church leader was still recovering from injuries following an attack against him, religious rights investigators said.

"According to the recent investigation that our co-coordinator has received, it is said that four people who killed Pastor Prem Kumar had gone to a nearby hotel in Rampur Thanda [village] after the incident," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a major advocacy group.

"The hotel owner noticed blood stains on them and immediately closed the hotel suspecting something to have gone wrong...The police are searching the four persons and the hotel owner...," he added.

The preacher was allegedly killed after being asked by suspected Hindu militants to hold a "prayer meeting," in this village located in Andhra Pradesh’s Nizamabad district.


George said in a statement monitored by BosNewsLife, his group learned that the preacher was murdered because his daughter-in-law is a converted Christian" from a family supporting the radical Hindu organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or National Volunteer Union.

Investigators say the group has been involved in campaigns of arsons, rapes, murders and intimidation directed towards India's religious minorities, including Christians and Muslims.

After Kumar’s daughter in law, whose name was not identified apparently for security reasons, "was speaking to her family about Jesus, drawing not only them but others also along with her father-in-law to Jesus, the villagers and [local] landlords were very annoyed," explained George. "This is apparently one of the reasons why they killed Pastor Prem Kumar. It is suspected that the two landlords who are the owners of about 100 acres [of land] are behind this murder," he said.


Kumar’s head was crushed beyond recognition, apparently with heavy stones, a photo seen by BosNewsLife showed. Police reportedly said the body was identified based on the description of the clothes worn by the preacher.

News of the murder came as elsewhere in India, in the state of Karnataka, a pastor was still recovering from injuries after Hindu militants attacked him last week, Christians said.

The Hindu militants reportedly dragged independent pastor Sundar Rao to a police station Sunday, June 11, accusing him of converting Hindus to Christianity. Local Christians told reporters that the pastor was “severely” beaten both inside the police station and after he was released on Monday (June 12.


The pastor has since been hospitalized with internal injuries and multiple contusions, but no fractures, Christian news agency Compass Direct reported.

The attack apparently happened while Rao was visiting his sister’s house in Namthi village in Devangere district, when a group of about 150 people gathered outside while he conducted a prayer meeting. When Rao emerged from the house, dozens of people allegedly dragged him to the Namthi police station and assaulted him, as officers refused to intervene.

Police officials have not commented. In Andhra Pradesh meanwhile, Hindu militants and police raided a church last week in the area of Gorakhpur in Jabalpur district, where the congregation was conducting the first day of a three-day Bible workshop for 27 local Christians, news reports said.


In published remarks, Pastor Vijay Sethi said the program was focused on training in Christian living and it had "nothing to do with conversion or baptism." As soon as the program began however, police accompanied the activists and began questioning the organizers about the nature of the program.

Police took the Christians to the local station, who were later released after being questioned, Superintendent Shri Shrinivas Rao was quoted as saying by Compass Direct.

The activists of the Hindu group Dharma Sena involved in the June 15 attack have been implicated in several attacks against Christians, including on June 6, when they reportedly threatened to burn alive dinner guests of Christian Meera Bai in Jabalpur, who was accused of forcible conversions.

The incidents have been linked to concern among Hindu militants about the spread of Christianity in especially rural areas of India. Most India’s roughly 1.1 billion people are Hindus, about two percent are Christians. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).

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