Trans World Radio Worker Killed In India For Preaching

Monday, October 1, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- An Indian evangelist working for international Christian broadcaster Trans World Radio has been shot and killed because of his involvement in converting Hindus to Christianity, police reportedly confirmed Friday, September 28.

Ajay Topno, 38, was found dead with bullet wounds on September 19 in a jungle near Sahoda village in the Ranchi district of India's Jharkhand state.

In comments published by Compass Direct News agency, which investigates reports of persecution, a police official said Topno infuriated villagers after converting at least three tribal families in Sahoda village.

"After reconverting the Christian families, the villagers arranged for Topno’s killing through a local criminal, who shot him dead," explained Inspector Rajesh Mandal of the local Lapung police station. Earlier the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a major advocacy group, said earlier that "Friends of Ajay fear that radical [Hindu] organizations could have abducted him from his native tribal village..."


He left his house on September 16, telling his wife that he was going to Sahoda village, but he never returned, the GCIC said.

The case has underscored concerns about an apparent trend of attacks against Christians in the mainly Hindu nation. In a statement to BosNewsLife the Washington DC-based group International Christian Concern (ICC), with Website, said that Hindu "extremist groups Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagruti Samiti distributed thousands of anti-Christian leaflets in Chitradurga district in the southern state of Karnataka last month."

The campaign allegedly resulted in an incident on August 5, when at least 50 extremists attacked more than 10 workers of the Seventh Day Adventist church during the dedication of a new church in Sira area between Tumkur and Chitradurga districts. On August 16, the victimized Christian workers were arrested on charges of "forcible conversion," the ICC added.


"The trend of launching venomous propaganda campaigns that incite physical attacks against the Christian minority came to fore in 1998 when the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political arm of the chief Hindu extremist organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), graduated from a party on the margins to a mainstream and ruling party in India," the group said.

More recently, Muslim militants have joined the attacks, according to ICC investigators. The group said it established that "six Christian convert families have been ostracized and threatened by Muslim leaders in their village. In addition, a group of Muslims forced a Christian woman to strip in order to check for any marks of conversion on her body."

The incident occurred on September 4 in Natungram village in West Bengal's Murshidabad district, but the victims have not lodged a complaint with the police yet, "fearing for their lives," the ICC quoted a local Christian source as saying.


Amid the reports of persecution, there have been some positive developments for Christians: a pastor and his sister were cleared of charges of rape and abortion in Chhattisgarh state.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India said Pastor Simon Tandi, a convert from Hinduism, and his sister Sanjeela Begum were acquitted by a court in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district on September 12.

Tandi was facing charges of raping and forcing a girl to terminate the resulting pregnancy after she filed a complaint against him – prompted by a Hindu extremist group – in June 2005, Compass Direct News recalled. His sister Begum was accused of "abetting" the crime. Tandi spent six months in jail, and his sister four months, before they were released on bail prior to the acquittal.

Christians comprise roughly just over two percent of India's over 1.1 billion strong, mainly Hindu, population.

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