Protestant Pastor Killed in India's Orissa State

A Pentecostal pastor was killed last Saturday in the northeastern Indian state of Orissa, according to Mar. 1 media reports. The attack is the latest in recent spat of violence that Hindu fundamentalists claim “is a spontaneous reaction by local people against missioners adamant on conversion”.

In the latest incident of violence, AsiaNews reported that 22-year-old Dilip Dalai of the Orissa Follow-up community was stabbed to death at his home in Begunia village about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of the state capital of Bhubaneswar.

Pastor Hrudayaban Dandia, head of Orissa Follow-up, told AsiaNews that villagers suspect Satrughan Pal, a Begonia Hindu, of the crime. On several occasions Pal had opposed pastors staying in the village and preaching the Gospel.

Dandia said the killing might have been aimed to “put an end to the spread of the Gospel.”

According to AsiaNews, Pal has reportedly fled and police are currently investigating the attack.

Sources report that Dalai’s murder is the second in the last two weeks in Orissa. On Feb. 16, Pastor Gilbert Raj of the India Mission was killed. According to police reports, the Baptist clergyman was tortured prior to his murder.

John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Union, an interdenominational Christian organization that defends the rights of Indian Christians, was one of several Christian figures that condemned the killing of the two Protestant clergymen.

In his view, both murders “reflect the precarious and alarming situation Christians face in Orissa.”

“I’m appalled at the deteriorating situation in Orissa,” Dayal told AsiaNews. “I’ve written to Prime Minister [Singh] giving documentary and statistical evidence of the attacks on Christians in the last three months. [And] I have asked for an appointment to brief him of the sentiments of the minority community”.

While Dayal believes the recent attacks on Christians may be politically motivated, Hindu fundamentalist groups claim that the recent spat of violence “is a spontaneous reaction by local people against missioners adamant on conversion”.

“Christian organizations are on a warpath—accept their religion or face the music,” the Hindu nationalist weekly Organizer quoted a Hindu leader in the state as saying.

In an article titled “Proselytizers run amok”, another Hindu leader, Jagaram Samukhya, alleged that “Christian missioners in Orissa were on a conversion spree to achieve their target by hook or crook”.

According to sources, Orissa is known for its re-conversion campaigns to force Christian Adivasi (tribal people) to convert back to Hinduism.