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INDIA – MORE CHRISTIANS MARTYRED FOR THEIR FAITH

Hindu militants and followers of local gods target Christians. Attacks expected to worsen as covid crisis continues.

Samaru Madkami, martyred, aged 16. Picture: Voice of the Martyrs Korea

Release partners report that attacks against Christians are continuing to gather momentum in India. In a recent attack a 16-year-old boy was stoned to death by Hindu militants because of his faith in Christ.

Kendukuda Village, Odisha, was hard ground for the gospel. Under the ministry of Pastor Kosha Mosaki, three families converted to Christianity three years ago – incurring the wrath of Hindu extremists.

Samaru Madkami was one of those who gave his life to Jesus. A teenager from a poor background, his mother died when he was a child and his father had to bring up Samaru and his two sisters alone.

Threats

Though still a schoolboy, Samaru took over running Sunday services at Bethel House Church, after militants threatened the pastor. Then the Hindu nationalists turned their threats on him.

On June 4, while his father was away, militants barged into his house and seized Samaru, along with two other church members.

As they were taking them to the mountains, the two older Christians managed to escape, but the militants forced Samaru to the ground.

His body was later found partially buried. He had been crushed by stones and cut to pieces.

Arrested

Samaru’s father and sisters. Picture: Voice of the Martyrs Korea

Release partner, the All India Christian Council, told the police and four men were later arrested.

A spokesman says: ‘Unfortunately, Samaru is one of a growing number of Christians being persecuted and even martyred in India, as radical Hinduism spreads across the country.’

Fearing for the safety of the Christian families in Kendukuda, the AICC moved them to another village.

Release partners are concerned that Christians will face more attacks during the covid crisis in India.

They say: ‘Challenges lie ahead of us. Post lockdown, fanatics will target more churches.’

Support

Release partners have given food and financial support to Samaru’s family, and have paid for the 16-yr-old’s funeral.

One line of attack, they believe, will be to accuse Christians of spreading the coronavirus.

Churches have been permitted to open again, but with congregations limited to ten and a ban on singing and sharing communion.

Release partners have reminded churches to stick closely to government guidelines. They add: ‘We cannot be foolish. We need to be watchful.’

Hindus and tribal leaders

It isn’t only Hindu militants who are attacking Christians. Believers have also been killed by followers of local tribal gods.

In separate incidents:

A tribal group incited Maoist militants to kill a Christian pastor who was proving ‘too successful’ at leading villagers to Christ.

Body of Samaru Madkami. Picture: Voice of the Martyrs Korea

Maoists shot and murdered Pastor Munshi Devu Tado in Maharashtra state. Pastor Tado, who was in his 30s, was the first in the village to convert to Christianity. Under his ministry 15 more families were led to Christ. He left a wife and four young children.

In Chhattisgarh state a mob broke into the house of a Christian family and beat the parents and children with sticks. Fifteen attackers then set about other Christians in Devkupli Para, destroying their food stores.

Refused to worship

They attacked the Christians and threatened them with murder because they refused to worship local tribal gods. It’s the latest in a growing number of attacks against Christians in the area.

For several years, Release International has been reporting growing numbers of attacks against Christians in India.

According to news agency Morning Star News militants have killed four believers in India for their faith in the past two months.

On June 29 Release remembered Christians who laid down their lives for Christ during the Day of the Christian Martyr. You can watch our coverage of that here

Sources: Voice of the Martyrs Korea, All India Christian Council, Morning Star News

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