Christian Headlines | June 11, 2020
Incited by Hindu extremists, followers of traditional tribal religion in eastern India last week stabbed and stoned a 16-year-old Christian boy to death for his faith, sources said.
The mutilated body of Sambaru Madkami was found on Friday (June 5) buried in the jungle of Malkangiri, about six kilometers (less than 4 miles) from his village of Kenduguda, Malkangiri District, Odisha state. The village animists had seized him on Thursday night (June 4) after deciding to kill the male heads of the three Christian families in the village, area sources said.
“They had come for me,” Sambaru’s father, Unga Madkami, told Morning Star News, “but I was not at home. I had taken my daughter who was sick to the doctor.”
Living at home instead of the hostel of his school in Bhejaguda because of a COVID-19 lockdown, Sambaru had been leading daily meetings of a house church whose founding pastor, living in another town, dared to appear only twice a month due to villagers’ growing opposition. The only three Christian families in the village of 210 families met at Sambaru’s house.
“Sambaru knew the Word of God the most from among us,” his cousin told Morning Star News. “So he was the one who led us in a time of prayer and learning from the Bible every day in his house.”
Some seven to 10 villagers came to his family’s home at about 11 p.m. on June 4 and called for his father, said an area resident whose name is withheld for security reasons.
As Sambaru’s father was staying overnight at a relative’s house en route to the hospital several miles away where he was taking his daughter for treatment, the villagers abducted Sambaru, the source said.
“They took him a few meters further, where a huge mob was waiting for him,” the eyewitness told Morning Star News, translated from the tribal language by an area pastor. “They tied his hands and started to beat him.”
The assailants then went to the house of Sambaru’s cousin, like his father also named Unga Madkami, and called for him, but his wife stopped him from going out and urged him to run for his life toward the jungle, the cousin told Morning Star News.
The attackers then called out to the third Christian male targeted, 18-year-old Sukka Padiami, who jumped out his back window and fled toward the jungle.
“Both I and Sukka ran all night across the jungle,” Sambaru’s cousin told Morning Star News. “We ran for almost 20 kilometers [12 miles] and then called our pastor, who directed us to go to his friend’s house, and we took refuge there.”
“The villagers were instigated to attack the Christians at the behest of Hindu extremists,” said area pastor Bijay Pusuru, a close friend of Sambaru’s family.
The assailants dragged Sambaru six kilometers from the village to the jungle, “completely” ripping off the skin on his back, Pastor Pusuru said, citing information from an autopsy report.
Sambaru’s village house church pastor, Inga Madkami, said information from police and the autopsy report indicated the assailants broke the young Christian’s legs and hands, put him in a sack and stabbed him with a knife.
“Several knife stabs are visible on his back, we were told,” Pastor Madkami said.
The autopsy indicated the assailants untied the knotted sack, tore open Sambaru’s mouth from both sides and smashed his face with a huge stone, the pastors said.
“His eyes, nose and face were not visible,” said Pastor Pusuru, sobbing. “It was all smashed.”
The autopsy indicated that the killers then struck the back of Sambaru’s head with a stone before slitting his throat, the pastors said.
“They dug a shallow pit and put his dead body there and covered it with mud and leaves,” Pastor Pusuru told Morning Star News.
ARREST AND CONFESSION
Police arrested six people after Sambaru’s cousin filed a complaint, and two of the suspects, Deba Madkami and another whose identity is unclear, confessed to the kidnapping and murder and led officers to Sambaru’s body, according to Inspector Ram Prasad Nag, the investigating officer who is also Station Head Officer of the Malkangiri police station.
“At the confession of two of the arrested, we were able to trace Sambaru’s mutilated body,” Nag told Morning Star News. “We are still in the process of investigation, and with new facts surfacing, the sections of the FIR [First Information Report] are being changed accordingly.”
FIR No. 180, registered on Friday (June 5), names four suspects – Deba Madkami, Budra Muchaki, Aaita Kabasi and Ramu Madi.
Police found Sambaru’s body at 7 p.m. on Friday (June 5) but didn’t recover and transport the body away until the next morning. After the autopsy, Sambaru’s family buried his body at a funeral service officiated by Pastor Pusuru on Saturday (June 6) in the deceased’s native Kenduguda, under police supervision at 9 p.m., Pastor Madkami said.