International Christian Concern | July 17, 2020
In just over a month, four Christians, including a woman, a teenager, and a pastor, were killed in India because of their faith. These killings, which took place in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Maharashtra, may indicate a deadly new trend in the persecution and violence facing India’s Christian community.
Bijay Mandavi – Chhattisgarh – May 25
The killings began on May 25 when Bijay Mandavi, a 38-year-old Christian woman, was found in the jungle near Baddi village, located in the Kondagaon district of Chhattisgarh. Mandavi’s body was partially decomposed and reportedly surrounded by street dogs when police recovered it.
“Ever since she became a Christian three years ago, she went through constant harassment and death threats,” Pastor Bupesh Salam told International Christian Concern (ICC). According to local Christians, Bijay converted to Christianity after she experienced a miraculous healing.
Despite the threats and harassment, Bijay remained steadfast in her newfound faith. She regularly attended church with her three children.
“I never thought this would happen,” Pastor Salam told ICC. Recalling a conversation with Bijay, Pastor Salam said, “About three months back, Bijay’s extended family told her that they would cut her into pieces and kill her if she didn’t give up her Christian faith. I never thought they would keep their word.”
According to Pastor Salam, the 15 Christian families of Baddi village are no strangers to persecution. Social stigma, discrimination, denial of work, and social exclusion are part of the everyday life of Christians living in the village.
In 2013, Pastor Salam was forced to leave Baddi village after a series of physical assaults. While Pastor Salam still leads the village church, he rarely travels there due to concerns for his safety and that of his family.
Sombura Madkami – Odisha – June 4
On June 4, Sombura Madkami, a 14-year-old Christian boy from Kenduguda village, located in the Malkangiri district of India’s Odisha state, was brutally murdered. Local Christian leaders claim that Sombura was murdered by fanatics who harassed Christians of Kenduguda village for years.
“On the night of June 4, a few villagers ganged up with a handful of religious fanatics, who were not part of the village, and attempted to kidnap Christians,” Pastor Kosha Mosaki told the media. The fanatics captured Sombura and the two other Christians. However, the two other Christians were able to escape their captors before they were taken to the jungle.
In the jungle, the extremists brutally murdered Sombura and buried his body to hide the crime.
However, the two other Christians who escaped notified local police and identified Deba Madkami, Budra Muchaki, Aaita Kabasi, Rabu Madi, and others involved in the abduction and murder. Upon interrogating these suspects, police located Sombura’s body.
According to Pastor Bijay Pusuru, local extremists harassed the Christians of Kenduguda for years. In the months leading up to Sombura’s murder, these fanatics threatened the Christians that they would be killed if they continued to hold church activities in the village.
According to Pastor Pusuru, Sombura refused to comply with this demand.
“God gave me a son and took him back,” Unga Madkami, Sombura’s father, told ICC. “As a father, I am shattered. Although there has been constant harassment for the last year over our practice of the Christian faith, I never expected that my son would have to pay his life for his faith.”